The task for the new AMD A10-4600M is twofold. Firstly, it needs to move the game on, both from AMD's existing fusion processors or APUs. Secondly, it needs to keep AMD relevant in the portable PC market. That means improving on the disappointing Bulldozer CPU core architecture and beating the outgoing AMD Llano APU for graphics grunt.
Part two involves taking the fight to Intel in the burgeoning Ultrabook market. Strictly speaking, of course, a portable PC with the AMD A10-4600M cannot be called an Ultrabook. It's a marketing term and Intel has it locked down. And yet AMD can still get its new chip into thin, light and sexy laptops that are Ultrabooks in all but name.
Our main worry with the new AMD A10-4600M was that its Bulldozer-derived CPU cores might actually make for a backwards step in performance compared to the fully quad-core Llano chip it replaces. We needn't have worried. It's not a huge step forward, but it is quicker.
However the real advance involves the graphics core. Increasingly, graphics performance is what matters most in mobile devices. For proof, observe the fact that Apple's recent third-gen iPad pretty much carried over the two CPU cores from iPad 2, instead preferring to double up on graphics performance.
Similarly, the AMD A10-4600M delivers a big advance in graphics performance. It's easily the fastest integrated graphics core out there. More importantly, it makes playing modern games at half decent detail settings a real possibility. For gamers on a tight budget looking for a portable to do some casual gaming away from home, AMD's new fusion chip is very exciting.
In terms of battery life, drawing conclusions at this early stage is difficult. But if this evaluation platform is anything to go by, it looks promising.
Relieved as we are by the CPU performance of the AMD A10-4600M, this first showing suggests the revised Piledriver architecture isn't going to put the frighteners up Intel in a broad sense. AMD needs a fundamentally new architecture to achieve that.
It's been tough going for AMD in the conventional x86 chip market of late. Its long-awaited Bulldozer architecture was a particular disappointment on the desktop. But AMD is looking much more competitive in the mobile segment.
The new AMD A10-4600M has the makings of a very successful chip for thin-and-light notebooks. Buyers looking for affordable laptops in the Ultrabook idiom but with a little extra graphics gumption would be well advised for the first retail systems with this impressive little chip to appear.