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Sep 2, 2012

AMD Private Meeting Highlights: Yes to Tablets, No to Ultrabook Alternative




Being one of those lucky enough to land a one-on-one briefing with AMD at IFA 2012, I got the inside scoop on quite a few things, from laptops to tablets and the processors used in them.

It was actually surprising to learn that AMD was going to focus on tablets during the meeting, rather than ultrathin laptops and notebooks. Nevertheless, that is what happened. There are some things we can’t talk about just yet, but we have free reign on just as many subjects, if not more. To start off, AMD isn’t going to follow the same pattern that the rest of the IT industry adopted in regards to the tablet market. For those who don’t know what we mean, many companies released a sort of test product before entering the segment, some after taking months to “study marketing conditions.”

AMD took its time not because it didn’t believe in the idea, but because it wanted to be sure it could make an impact, which means that they will push fast and hard. Bulldoze the segment as it were. Of course, it remains to be seen if they succeed in entering the “sweet spot” of the tablet market from the start. Our guess is that they will, because Trinity, and the work on the part of the HSA Foundation, is significant in its thoroughness. Besides, APUs have always been about performance at a low price and reduced power draw, and reports have been roaming the web about a certain Hondo low-power 40nm chip with 4.5W power draw. Setting aside what we know right now, some, like Fudzilla, think this is the next-generation mobile chip, while others still believe Hondo to have been cancelled a while ago.

That said, AMD talked about the ultrathin notebook segment and what plans it has for it. It turns out that there won’t be an ultrabook alternative in the strictest sense. I asked them if they thought about a counter-brand, and they said that they don’t see a need for it, especially since the normal term “ultrathin” defines the same sort of product but is not as restrictive (the screen size can go above that of ultrabooks, the feature set can vary more, etc.). Verily, it may even be a good idea to go this route for a very uncanny reason: promoting something as an “alternative” to ultrabooks would immediately cause prospective buyers to think the AMD-based devices are just as unimpressive and/or not worth buying as them. 

We aren’t saying that ultrabooks are bad. The Acer Aspire S7 would have our hide if we did. Nevertheless, all market analyst firms are in agreement that sales have consistently failed to impress. Thus, it might be good for AMD to have nothing to do with a product type that is dragging its feet one year after it was supposed to win back the consumer base stolen by tablets. On that note, HP is, at this point, the only PC maker with a special “brand” for AMD ultrathins (Sleekbook).

AMD logo
Image credits to AMD

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