October 9, 2012
Here Comes Hondo: AMD Releases Z-60 Tablet Processor Details
Enid Burns for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
As the release of Windows 8 approaches, we're starting to see several announcements about phones, tablets, apps and other hardware to support the software. Following suit, AMD released details for its AMD Z-Series Accelerated Processing Unit (APU), codenamed “Hondo”. The new processor, the Z-60, is a low power API that promises AMD AllDay power for tablet form factors. It can even pack into tablets as thin as 10 mm.AMD promises performance and support on Windows 8 software and the Hondo APU is designed to enhance the tablet experience. It uses AMD's Start Now technology, which allows for a fast boot and resume from sleep time. The low power processor runs for up to eight hours of web browsing and up to six hours of HD video playback on a single charge. Video is playable via AMD Radeon graphics on the APU and supports 1080p HD resolution, HDMI output for external displays and gaming performance with Microsoft Direct X 11 capabilities.
The Z-60 APU is a dual core processor with a 1GHz clock speed and a 1 MB cache. The APU is built with AMD Radeon HD 6250 and an 80 AMD Radeon core.
Tablets with the AMD APU have access to AMD AppZone, an app store set up by AMD, though users should be able to get to other app stores supported by Windows 8 or the system on the tablet, such as the Windows Phone app store.
The Z-60 APU has been in development under the codename Hondo. The Inquirer reports that AMD said the Hondo chip will exclusively support Windows 8, though AMD states the processor will be compatible with Windows 7 and the full-suite of legacy Windows applications.
Some critics question how well the processor will run applications on the new Microsoft software being released later this month. Ars Technica says while the GPU is labeled as a 6000-series, it is architecturally a 5000-series part. The article says the CPU is slower than many E-series CPUs, and says that Intel's competing Clover Trail Atom chips will be clocked fast enough to beat any advantage AMD has with its Z-60 APU.
The Z-60 APU may not have the performance that puts it in tablets from some of the major manufacturers, according to Ars Technica. An article suggests that a majority of the tablets on schedule to be released are high-end models and use Intel's Ivy Bridge processors. Some low-end tablets are running Clover Trail Atoms from Intel, or ARM-based chips. AMD isn't currently supplying information about which OEMs will use the Z-60 processor. AMD's Z-01 APU, the predecessor to the Z-60, is in use in MSI's WindPad 110W.
AMD's architecture builds the CPU and GPU onto the same piece of silicon. This is what makes the Accelerated Processing Unit (APU) distinction. While this may be seen as an advantage, an Ars Technica article report suggests the feature will hold the APU back. While the CPU and GPU are integrated onto one chip, the USB, SATA and other functions are handled by a separate chip called the Fusion Controller Hub (FCH). The separate operations take up more space, and could end up taking up less space on store shelves if tablet manufacturers opt for other processing chips.