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AMD chases Intel ultrabooks with Trinity laptop-tablet hybrid

With Trinity, AMD hopes to undercut Intel touchscreen ultrabooks on price

By Agam Shah
June 6, 2012 12:38 AM ET

IDG News Service - Advanced Micro Devices showed off a Windows 8 tablet-laptop hybrid running on the company's A-series chips code-named Trinity, taking direct aim at Intel's effort to chase touchscreen ultrabooks running on Ivy Bridge processors.

The prototype device shown at the AMD press conference had a detachable touchscreen that could be used as a tablet when undocked from the laptop. This is a new form factor that AMD is targeting with the Trinity chips, said Lisa Su, senior vice president at AMD, during a company press conference at the Computex trade show in Taipei.

The hybrid device was a prototype made by Compal and was displayed on stage at the AMD press conference. AMD's A-series chips, which were announced in May, are aimed at thin-and-light laptops starting at $599 and compete with Intel's chips used in ultrabooks, which roughly start at $750.

Tablet-laptop hybrids have appeared at the Computex trade show this year, with Asus and Acer showing off Windows 8 laptops with detachable touchscreens based on Intel's Core processors code-named Ivy Bridge. No PC maker has yet announced a tablet-laptop hybrid based on AMD's Trinity chips, but Su said the company is working with device makers to address new form factors.

The Compal prototype shows AMD's desire to keep up the competition with Intel, which has said that 30 touchscreen ultrabooks with Ivy Bridge processors would be released by the end of the year. AMD historically has had a price advantage over Intel, and new lower-priced touchscreen hybrids with AMD's Trinity could upset Intel's Ivy Bridge momentum.

Customers can potentially take the Compal reference design and offer touch tablet-laptop hybrids with AMD's Trinity chips at a lower price than similar Intel's Ivy Bridge designs, said an AMD spokesman after the press conference. AMD has a price advantage and its chip packages are typically less expensive than comparable chips from Intel.

A possible use for the prototype Compal model is gaming, as AMD's on-chip graphics performance is superior than the graphics on Ivy Bridge, the spokesman said.

AMD has already said it will release low-power tablet chips code-named Hondo later this year. Targeting Trinity chips at touchscreen laptops provides AMD a wider opportunity to expand its presence in the fast-growing tablet market.

Laptops with Trinity chips will offer up to 10 hours of battery life. The chips will go into laptops up to 22 millimeters thick, just a hair over the 21-mm maximum set by Intel for ultrabooks. The chip comes with up to four CPU cores and replaces the current A-series line of processors code-named Llano. AMD has improved the CPU, which is 25% faster than its predecessor, and also the graphics core, which is 50% faster. Trinity chips draw 17 watts of power, similar to Intel's Ivy Bridge processors for ultrabooks.

Reprinted with permission from IDG.net. Story copyright 2014 International Data Group. All rights reserved.
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