AMD revamps APU for Windows 8 tablets

AMD has unveiled an addition to its APU line that it hopes will power the new wave of Windows 8 tablets.

AMD revamps APU for Windows 8 tablets

The Z-60, codenamed “Hondo”, follows the traditional APU blueprint set out most recently by its Trinity processors, with both a processing core and a Radeon-branded graphics chip on the same die.

Closer examination reveals that the Z60 isn’t a new part, but a tweaked version of the Z-01, which was released in 2011 – but wasn’t used in any major tablet releases.

The dual-core 40nm processor is based on the Bobcat architecture used in first-generation Fusion parts and runs at 1GHz, with 1MB of L2 cache. There’s no sign of Turbo Core, which AMD uses on more powerful chips to dynamically overclock the core. Last year’s chip was also based on the 40nm Bobcat architecture, and it still included two 1GHz cores with 1MB of cache.

The Radeon HD 6250 includes 80 stream processors clocked at 275MHz. AMD claims the graphics core will play HD video without breaking a sweat as well as handle high-end tablet games.The Radeon HD 6250 graphics core was also present in the Z-01, but in the Z-60 it’s running 1Hz slower than it was in last year’s chip. Both support DirectX 11.

Aside from the lowered TDP, very little about the Z-60 has changed. AMD is claiming its Start Now technology will resume a tablet from sleep in two seconds of boot into Windows in 25 seconds. The Z-60 is compatible with App Zone, which enables the use of Android apps on AMD APUs, and the chip now includes support for HDMI and USB 3.

AMD claims that tablets using the Z-60 will last for six hours while playing 720p video with reduced screen brightness, and that Hondo-powered devices will last for two weeks on standby.

Intel, meanwhile, recently detailed its own chips for Windows 8 tablets. Codenamed “Clover Trail”, the Z2460 and Z2760 parts have TDPs of 1.7W, with the former including one core clocked between 1.3GHz and 2GHz, and the latter featuring two cores at 1.8GHz. Intel is claiming ten hours of video playback and three weeks of standby battery life.

AMD hasn’t been able to confirm any manufacturers that are using the Z-60 chip, only saying that it expects partners to release the majority of their AMD-based hardware in 2013. That’s in stark contrast to Intel, which said in July that 20 tablets were being built with Clover Trail hardware.

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