AMD has announced a trick that it hopes will help it gain ground against rival Intel in the burgeoning convertible laptop-cum-tablet market: a trick called AMD Turbo Dock which promises to boost performance by up to 40 per cent.
As the name suggests, AMD Turbo Dock is designed for dockable tablet devices running low-power variants of AMD accelerated processing unit (APU) chips - specifically the company's next-generation Temash parts, sold on their Intel-beating 3D graphics performance. When the device is running in tablet mode, it will operate just like any other tablet - but when the device is connected to its keyboard dock and transformed into a laptop, things change dramatically.
'With our latest APUs, AMD aims to deliver a more complete, full-featured experience on tablet and hybrid PCs than has been available to date,
' explained Steve Belt, vice president of AMD Ultra-low Power Products, of the new system. 'AMD Turbo Dock technology delivers on that promise by dynamically adjusting to what the user is doing to provide the optimal experience and battery life whether they are watching a video, playing a DirectX 11-supported game or building a PowerPoint presentation for work.
At its heart, then, Turbo Dock is little more than a tablet-oriented version of the company's Turbo Core technology - itself an answer to the Turbo Boost technology included in Intel processors. When system demand goes up, the processor is automatically overclocked; when demand goes down, the chip is underclocked to save power.
Where AMD's version differs is that it operates in an extended region only when docked: using a secondary power source found in the keyboard dock, either an additional battery or a mains connection, the system allows the APU to clock up to a level that the small tablet battery alone couldn't support - providing something a lot closer to the performance of a real laptop. Remove the tablet from the dock, and the processor goes back to its more conservative settings to maximise battery life.
It's an interesting concept, but not exactly new: the Asus Transformer used a second battery in its keyboard docking station to extend the device's runtime, rather than boost performance, while Lenovos's Intel-based ThinkPad Helix already boosts performance when docked with the aid of a novel cooling system located in the hinge of the keyboard docking station. Whether AMD's Turbo Dock will be the feature it needs to catch up to Intel, then, will largely depend on the efficiency of its implementation.
Thus far, AMD hasn't offered a hint as to release dates or pricing for any Temash-based convertibles with Turbo Dock capabilities, beyond the vague promise of an appearance 'later this year
' on devices to be teased at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) event next month. The company has, however, released a teaser video, reproduced below.