AMD targets tablets with 2W Mullins parts
November 14, 2013 // 10:05 a.m.
AMD has pledged to join Intel in pushing the x86 instruction set architecture into the mobile realm, taking on industry incumbent ARM with some low-power chips of its own codenamed Mullins.
Designed to take over from Temash, which has not seen massive adoption from hardware makers, Mullins has as its headline a claimed doubling of per-watt performance over its predecessor. An accelerated processing unit (APU) design, Mullins chips are dual- or quad-core 'Puma' 64-bit x86 parts with Graphics Core Next (GCN) architecture graphics processing hardware embedded within.
Interestingly, the company has also revealed that the Mullins parts will include an AMD Security Processor with TrustZone support. While branded AMD, this is actually an ARM Cortex-A5 co-processor featuring a trusted execution environment designed to validate the security of so-called Trusted Applications (TAs) independently of the main x86 processing cores. The low-power ARM core, however, will not be available for general-purpose processing use - as to do so would be to defeat the entire point of having an independent security co-processor.
Power draw is where AMD hopes Mullins will tempt OEMs: the test system used for comparison to Temash, over which it showed a claimed 139 per cent improvement in performance per watt, used a 4.5W quad-core part with AMD promising a near-2W dual-core part to follow - although, taking a leaf from rival Intel, AMD is referring here to 'Scenario-Driven Power' rather than the peak Thermal Design Profile (TDP.)
AMD has also unveiled a higher-power mainstream APU family dubbed Beema, which claims to double the performance per watt over Kabini - allowing a drop from a 25W to a 15W SDP with improved performance, or a matched 25W SDP with dramatically better compute power. Designed for mainstream two-in-one and compact notebook systems, Beema parts will also feature dual- and quad-core Puma processors and GCN graphics hardware, but require active cooling and are not suitable for tablet use.
'AMD is establishing excellent momentum this year in the low-power, mobile computing market and with Mullins and Beema coming in 2014 we are not standing still,' claimed Mark Papermaster, AMD's chief technology officer and senior vice president, following the chips' unveling at the APU13 conference. 'AMD aims to deliver a set of platforms in the first half of next year that will outperform the competition in graphics and total compute performance in fanless tablets, 2-in-1s and ultrathin notebooks.'
AMD is expected to demonstrate the parts at the Consumer Electronics Show next year, and pledges to release them into the market by Computex in June 2014.