Wednesday, June 1, 2011

AMD Announces the "Desna"

So far I've found Computex 2011 to be rather disappointing. Maybe it's deficient reporting by Engadget et company or just that I am growing older, but I haven't been "wow-ed" by anything introduced thus far. [Which partly accounts for the lack of blogging thus far on the event.] But I am happy to follow up on an announcement by Advanced Micro Devices (AMD).

As reported here by Anandtech, AMD earlier today announced the arrival of its Z-series of Fusion APUs (Accelerated Processing Units). This line of Fusion chips is codename "Desna" and intended to be used in tablet computers. AMD announced that the first of the Z-series, the dual-core Z-01, is shipping immediately.

Right off the bat, I care because I am a shareholder in AMD (as previously revealed). More than anything, this is very encouraging news by AMD because it marks the first x86 challenge to ARM chips in the tablet market. The competition from Intel is laughable at the moment, so I fully expect AMD to go ahead and capture some market share with the Desna. Performance from these chips should trump any current ARM offerings -- at least until the arrival of Nvidia's Tegra 3. Main question is, will consumers really buy Windows 7-equipped tablets?

I honestly do not know the answer to the previous question. As a consumer, I hesitate to purchase such a tablet because I know it will be an imperfect experience. As powerful as these Desna chips are, Windows 7 is a much more demanding operating system than Android or iOS. (It is, after all, a full-fledged operating system.) So real-world performance will be a major contributing factor. Additionally, cost-to-performance ratio will the second contributing factor. How will its performance compare against the current ARM offerings? It should be higher but I would expect higher production costs too -- which can be tough to sell to consumers.

What I do know is that AMD has nothing to lose by introducing the "Desna" series of Fusion chips. As the article points out, the market segment targeted by the Desna could ultimately be different from the (increasingly-saturated) one populated by iPads, Asus Transformers, Acer Iconias, and Xooms. The Desna could allow one to achieve a greater balance between consumption and content-creation. I would buy one...if AMD offered a shareholder discount!

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