CPU Chipset - Published on Tuesday, 09 October 2012 08:12 Written by Jacob Hugosson
Windows 8 is coming and AMD has despite early attempts failed to claim a portion of the tablet market. The company hopes to change this with its latest platform. Hondo builds on previous successes with Brazos, but has been further optimized.
The tablet market has grown exponentially over the last few years, but both x86 actors Intel and AMD have barely contributed to this. AMD's latest processor Z-60 in the platform Hondo builds on the same architecture as Z-01 that was in turn based on AMD C-50 found in Brazos. Z-60 has two Bobcat cores clocked at 1,0.GHz and graphcs HD 6250 with 80 Radeon cores at 276 MHz. The TDP has been reduced from 5.9 and 9.0 watt to only 4.5 watt, which will make it cool enough to run without active coolling.
|Model||AMD Z-60||AMD Z-01||AMD C-50||AMD C-60|
|TDP||4.5 W||5.9 W||9.0 W||9.0 W|
|Processor frequency||1.0 GHz||1.0 GHz||1.0 GHz||1.0/1.3 GHz|
|L2 cache||1 MB||1 MB||1 MB||1 MB|
|Graphics architecture||Terascale 2 "VLIW5"|
|Graphics||HD 6250||HD 6250||HD 6250||HD 6290|
|Graphics frequency||276 MHz||276 MHz||276 MHz||276/400 MHz|
|Memory buffer||DDR3/DDR3L-1066 "up to 8 GB"|
AMD has improved the Power-gating technology to deactivate idle partsmore effectively. The UMI (Unified Media Interface) interface to the southbridge and builds on PCI Express 1.1 that has been reduced to two channels. This has enabled further power savings, but also reduced the need for a wide bus for the southbridge.
AMD has removed all unnecessary bits for a tablet. We are left with eight USB 2.0, one SATA 6.0 Gbps and two USB 3.0 ports that are optional. Eight USB 2.0 ports is a bit exaggurated for tablets, but they are not for ports but for added functionality inside the case;web cams, Wi-Fi and such.
The platform is capable of powering a screen at 1920 x 1200 and it is this resolution AMD is focusing on in its work with manufacturing partners. Officially there is support for video playback at 720p (1280 x 720), but depending on the codec and format it can play 1080p video (1920 x 1080). Performance should be on par with competing solutions for Windows 8 and RT, but its integrated graphics will be better than Intel Clover Trail and ARM-based solutions.
When the screen is active processor, southbridge and remaining systems of AMD's reference design will consume 2.88 watt. When browsing the web the number rises to 3.89 watt and during video 4.79 watt. Energy cosnumption will be low enough to build competely passive solutions with tablets as thin as 10 millimeter.
We pointed out to AMD that these numbers are higher than competing solutions like Intel Clover Trail or ARM based processors. AMD didn't deny this and were open with that Hondo will not offer the best battery time, but it will be the best compromise between performance and energy consumption, which in the end will result in the best possible user experience.
AMD's reference platform will be capable of "nearly" eight hours of browsing, up to six hours video playback and idle up to two weeks. These are estimates of what we can expect with the reference platform. Depending on the make and model we can expect both better and worse battery times, but numbers presented here are achievable by AMD and partners.
During our conference with AMD we were disappointed over what they could not discuss. No matter questions by us or colleagues the company could not reveal what design wins it had, how many or if there were any hybrid solutions based on Hondo. AMD was then asked if the number of design wins are not exceptionally many and got the answer that that is a fair claim. At the same time the picture above indicates there will be at least one hybrid model with the new model.
We can't reveal which products will sport Hondo and the only thing we can say is that they are not that many. AMD did say we will see a couple of announcements from partners soon and Hondo based tablets will appear around the launch of Windows 8.