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AMD Processor Roadmap Points To Tablets

Content to let rival Intel lead the way, AMD plans to release Krishna and Wichita accelerated processing units in 2012.

Advanced Micro Devices' latest product roadmap shows that the chipmaker is preparing to enter the emerging market for tablet-style computers, but at the pace of a follower, not a technology leader.

AMD released its roadmap Tuesday during its annual Financial Analyst Day at the company's Sunnyvale, Calif., headquarters. The company's plans, as one would expect, includes processors with more cores, more memory and better performance-per-watt.

But AMD's preparations for the tablet market, which is expected to grow quickly over the next few years, show the company is willing to let Intel lead the way before jumping in with processors that will likely be low-cost workhorses that get the job done without offering too many frills.

"AMD meets market demand, while Intel tries to be the pioneer," Greg Richardson, analyst for Technology Business Research, told InformationWeek.

Rather than be the first to market, AMD plans to release processors for tablets and netbooks in 2012. Code-named Krishna and Wichita, the chips will be based on 28-nanometer technology and will be what AMD calls "accelerated processing units." APUs combine the graphics processor and CPU on the same piece of silicon for better performance.

All AMD processors by the end of 2012 will be based on one of two new core designs, code-named Bulldozer and Bobcat. The former is aimed at high-performance desktops, workstations and servers, while the latter is targeted at PCs that require low-power chips, such as tablets and smaller, lighter laptops. AMD plans to releases its first APUs, which will be based on the new core designs, starting next year.

In the tablet market, AMD will be about a year behind Intel, which goes into production this year on processors based on its next-generation microarchitecture, code-named Sandy Bridge. The new 32-nm design will be the foundation of Intel's second-generation Core processor family and will also be used in tablet-bound chips. Sandy Bridge processors are expected to be available early next year, starting in laptops and desktops.

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