AMD says no to the budget tablet market

An Intel-like contra revenue strategy isn’t in the cards for AMD, but company brass are upbeat about the possibility of success in the high-end market.

amd tablets processors tablet pc 620x315 AMD says no to the budget tablet market

An aggressive push into the low-end tablet market to win some business away from ARM, much as Intel is doing with its big China bet, is not something AMD is planning to do according to its CEO Rory Read and special vice president Lisa Su.

“This idea of contra revenue is foreign to us,” said Rory Read, CEO of AMD, during last week’s earnings call.

“If we miss out on some units in the low end, so be it,” added Lisa Su.

Intel’s tablet goal, as laid out by its CEO Brian Krzanich at IDF Shenzhen, is to ship 40 million Intel-based tablets in 2014. To get there Intel is using an aggressive stratagem of contra revenue, with $100 million on the table as an incentive for Shenzhen based tablet manufacturers to put Intel’s silicon in their devices.

AMD hasn’t set extensive goals for its tablet push, but has said that its tablet stratagem will be based around its Beema and Mullins mobile SoCs — expected to be released next quarter — and will target devices priced above $300.

amd puma apu soc AMD says no to the budget tablet market

These chips are based on the Puma APU architecture, and contain either two or four CPU cores and Radeon GCN graphics cores. Beema will have a power draw of between 10 to 25 watts while Mullins will have a scenario power draw of approximately 2 watts.

Strong design wins?

If AMD isn’t planning on focusing its mobile efforts with Beema and Mullins into the low-end market, or planning to use contra revenue as an incentive to get silicon-in-hardware, its big challenge will be making its two chips competitive against tried-and-true ARM based platforms and deeply discounted mobile x86 chips from Intel.

But AMD says it has tablet wins, and is likely planning a big reveal at Computex.

“For Mullins and Beema, I mean I think we have a strong sort of design wins for those products. We expect those to launch in Q2 and build through the second half of the year,” Su said during the call. “And what we’re looking to do with those products is really get a clear portfolio mix.”

If AMD’s tablet design wins are going to materialize, they will do so at Computex in June. Until then we’ll just have to take AMD’s word for it that these products are in the pipeline, but remember the operative word in Su’s statement is “I think.”

Sam Reynolds is a Canadian technology journalist based in Taipei. His interest is the intersection between politics, business and technology.