A few weeks ago AMD leaked some details on its new Desna Z-series Fusion processors, targeted at tablets and similar niche markets with a fetish for low voltage processors.
The first Z-series part already out, designated Z-01, it is a tweaked version of the C-50 APU, which has already found its way into numerous netbooks and Acer’s Iconia W500 tablet. The Z-01 powers MSI’s WindPad W110 and it is a 1GHz dual core processor with HD 6250 graphics.
Frankly it offers unprecedented performance in a 5.9 watt power envelope and despite the fact that it is a 40nm part, it easily matches Intel’s Atoms in terms of performance per watt. What’s more AMD went out of its way to implement some clever power management features and the Desna core should support Turbo Core as well. AMD also plans to introduce Turbo Core in E- and C-series APUs, delivering quite a bit more flexibility and performance.
Bear in mind that the Z-01 is the first Z-series processor and Desna is merely a tweaked Bobcat core, so we still don’t know what AMD has up its sleeve for the next round of low voltage Fusion processors, but it is quite sure Intel’s Atom will face stiff competition in the quarters to come.
Of course, there’s an obvious downside to both Desna and Atom processors in terms of power consumption, as both lag behind ARM processors which have come to dominate the tablet market. However, we are talking about proper x86 processors capable of running Windows here and it should really be up to vendors to come up with more innovative ways of putting them to good use. There is still plenty of room for convertible tablets and wafer thin netbooks that would appeal to users who need more then usual ARM – Android combo. Besides, such designs would not have to take Apple’s iPad in a head to head fight, as they would be aiming for a different crowd altogether. If you can't beat them or join them, run.
In any case, you can check out an interesting AMD presentation on the future of Fusion and heterogeneous computing here.