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AMD reveals next-gen mobile CPUs, claims unprecedented graphics performance

Michael Brown | May 27, 2013
Temash, Kabini, and Richland processors promise graphics performance on par with current-generation discrete GPUs.

AMD hopes to have a big second half in 2013, launching three new CPUs featuring integrated graphics that perform on par with the company's discrete GPUs. On Thursday, AMD revealed key details of these next-generation mobile chips, code-named Temash, Kabini, and Richland.

In a briefing in advance of the announcement, AMD vice-president John Taylor explained how the new chips leverage a number of firsts in AMD's history: The first CPU with an onboard memory controller, the first dual-core CPU, and the first CPU with an on-die GPU.

These are interesting achievements, but it's worth noting that AMD hasn't bested Intel in the CPU market since 2006. That's the year Intel introduced the first generation of its Core microarchitecture, and pulled ahead. AMD has performed better in the discrete GPU market, frequently trading the number one spot in the graphics space with arch-rival Nvidia. And now the company is looking to that GPU effort to catch up to Intel in the mobile CPU market.

This block diagram shows how AMD's new APUs are structured.

Taylor says that consumers' desire for thin and light computers of all types--desktops as well as notebooks and tablets--favors AMD's APU (accelerated processing unit) effort, a chip design that combines x86-compatible CPUs with AMD's latest Radeon graphics processors. "If you want low power and long battery life," said Taylor, "you need an APU. Combining those functions on one chip reduces cost. It reduces power consumption, and it eliminates the complexity of using the PCIe bus to communicate with a separate graphics processor."

AMD's new Temash lineup is designed for tablets, hybrids, and notebooks with screens smaller than 13 inches.

Intel's CPUs have integrated graphics, too, but Intel's GPU doesn't reside on the same die. Instead, Intels' integrated GPU merely resides in the same package as the CPU, and it doesn't come close to the performance of a discrete graphics processor. AMD's processors have had truly integrated graphics since 2011, when the company launched its Llano series of CPUs. The company shipped its second generation of APUs--the Trinity family--just 12 months ago.

Temash is an ultra-low-power SoC (system-on-chip) design that combines either two or four of AMD's "Jaguar" x86-compatible cores; 128 Radeon 8000-series graphics cores; and core logic to support up to eight USB 2.0 ports and two USB 3.0 ports, an SD card reader, and a second-generation SATA controller.

Temash will be available in three models: The A4-1200 is a 1.0GHz dual-core processor with an integrated Radeon HD 8180 graphics processor running at 225MHz, and boasting a TDP (thermal design power of just 3.9 watts. TDP defines the maximum amount of electrical power that a computer's cooling system is required to dissipate. Everything else being equal, the lower the TDP, the longer a mobile device can operate on battery power. The A4-1250 is also a dual-core 1GHz dual-core processor, but it offers an integrated Radeon HD 8210 processor running at 300MHz and has a TDP of 8 watts.


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