Ready for a bevy of more exotic-sounding codenames from AMD? Well, have a seat, as the maker of everyone's favorite APUs just revealed its roadmap extending through 2013. And folks, it's quite the doozy. But before we delve into its technical intricacies (which you'll find tucked after the break), we'll begin with some general takeaways. Per CEO Rory Read, 2012 and 2013 are "all about execution," with the company girding itself for the next "inflection point" where it'll excel. The key to this strategy, as he describes it, is to continue marching towards a full-SoC design that will cover a host of devices running the gamut from mainstream laptops to tablets and so-called Ultrathins, the company's forthcoming answer to Intel's Ultrabook onslaught.
During its announcement, timed to coincide with AMD's annual financial analyst day, the company also stressed its unique position wedged between Chipzilla and makers of ARM chips. Ask Read and he'll tell you that's a key advantage for AMD, that its CPU and GPU IP will bring more value through a better overall experience in the market. That's a strategy less obsessed with raw specs and sheer speed and more focused on a holistic package. Senior VP Lisa Su said AMD will aggressively enter the tablet arena this year in a big way, reiterating that AMD-based Windows 8 slates are indeed en route, though she stopped short of giving an ETA. Finally, the company's renewing its focus in the server market, as it seeks to cut a larger slice of the cloud computing pie. That's AMD's 2012 / 2013 plans in a nutshell, but if you're the kind of person who likes a few technical specifics (and who doesn't, really?) meet us after the break for a peek at what's in store.
For the sake of giving newcomers proper background, let's begin with some tidbits you may or may not have known. For starters, the company will sail through 2012 with refreshed versions of its current APUs, covering mainstream laptops, cheap ultraportables and low-power tablets. From the most high-end down, we begin with its Trinity APU (which we toyed with at CES), which replaces Llano and will power traditional laptops in 35W guise (with twice the performance of Llano). Interestingly, it will also have 17-25W versions of its Trinity chips, promising the same performance as Llano, but with half the power consumption. (If that's not a direct shot at Ultrabooks, we don't know what is.) Available with dual or quad-core "PileDriver" CPUs, the 40nm APU will be paired with a DX11 compatible GPU.
Moving on, Brazos (i.e., AMD's C- and E-Series Fusion chips) will see an update in the aptly named Brazos 2.0 family, while the low-power Z-series (formerly known as Krishna), will now be known as "Hondo." Expect to see those 4.5W chips in tablets and other similarly mobile devices.
As for next year, the company seeks to standardize around moving its APUs and GPUs over to the 28nm process, except for a continuation of its lone quad- and octo-core high-end 32nm family of CPUs, codenamed "Vishera." Starting with Trinity, that A-Series of Fusion chips will be known as "Kaveri" in its third iteration, and will be offered in 35W, 25W and 17W flavors. "Kabini," the follow-up to Brazos, will have two- and four-core models, and carries the vague promise of "better graphics" and lower power consumption. In the case of both the Kaveri and Kabini families, AMD will begin integrating the fusion controller hub, allowing for a more bona fide system on a chip. At the lower-power end of the spectrum, the "Temash" platform will succeed the Z series, but we don't know much about it except that it will be targeted at fanless tablets, fanless clamshells and other thin form factors expected to deliver exceptionally long battery life.
Dana Wollman contributed to this report.