While Intel is grabbing the headlines with its Sandy Bridge line at IDF, AMD is continuing its tradition of subverting the event with a little gathering of its own in a nearby hotel - and it's taken the opportunity to unveil Zacate, its first Accelerated Processor Unit.

Part of the company's Fusion range, Zacate combines ATI graphics with an AMD processor in a single chip - and at a claimed power draw of between 9 and 18 watts under load, it's a chip which AMD is going to be aiming at the ultra-slim and portable markets.

Interestingly, the company isn't looking to take on Intel's Atom directly: rather, Maximum PC claims that Zacate is designed to compete with Intel's Core i5 and provide a low-power solution for gamers on the go. While that might seem too good to be true, attendees at the launch were treated to MMORPG City of Heroes: Going Rogue running on a Zacate-based system at perfectly playable framerates.

PC Magazine claims that the Zacate chip was also put through its paces on the Internet Explorer 9 hardware acceleration demo, where it beat a Core i5 2.4GHz chip "by an order of magnitude."

As proof of its performance chops, AMD has posted a video of Zacate in action, showing it managing around ten frames per second higher than the comparison Core i5 chip.

Before you get too excited, there is a caveat with these particular examples: although several attendees attempted to get some firm figures regarding the actual specifications of the Zacate chip used in the demonstration, AMD remained tight-lipped and refused to discuss clockspeeds or features beyond confirming that the chip featured a pair of Bobcat cores.

AnandTech managed to confirm that Zacate will ship towards the end of this year, and that it will be joined by the Ontario part for netbooks which drops the power draw even further - despite AMD's assurance that it isn't gunning for the slate market.

While we'll have to wait for firm details as to actual specifications and expected volume pricing, it's clear that Intel's low-end chips could have a serious fight on their hands.

Are you excited about the possibilities promised by a low-power gaming-friendly processor, or will you need to see a proper review with firm specifications before you give up on i5? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

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