"Gone are the days of running hot," proclaims Rick Bergman, head of AMD's products group. It's undoubtedly a soundbite but he's right about one thing – power frugality and battery longevity is the new battle ground for the budget laptop.
Bergman was speaking at an AMD press briefing ahead of yesterday's launch of its new AMD Vision A-Series processors and the Sabine laptop platform.
As well as four CPU cores, it also boast up to 400 Radeon cores for graphics processingand has some impressive power-saving features.
NEW BRANDING: The A-Series will be marketed under the AMD Vision brand
AMD says that 10.5 hours of battery life is achievable in notebooks running A-Series processors. In our AMD A8-3500M review, we achieved over six hours of battery life while running a 720p HD video continuously. That's impressive, though it's worth noting that our testing took place on a whitebook sent to us by AMD rather than a third-party system.
Hot no more
"We just haven't caught up with our competition, we're blowing by them," boasts Bergman. "[Llano] has the best battery life in the industry. If you look at Ontario [AMD's 40nm first Fusion processor, which it sold out of] we hit a home run and we have done with Llano."
"We can power gate individual cores, remove all the power from the core. Anywhere from 1 to 4 CPUs can be independently power gated. We've got very good granularity on our block level power gating."
AMD also has technology, known as Turbo Core, to digitally measure your computing activity and estimate power usage. This ensures you get the maximum from the battery or performance per Watt, to put it another way.
Turbo Core changes the performance state to stay within the thermal operating limit (or Thermal Design Power, TDP) of the processor. If the GPU is idle, there's increased capacity for the CPU cores to get a performance boost.
GPU IDLE: So more power is made available for the CPU
"We're pretty good at getting the system level power management right," says Bergman. "This generation we've taken a really hard look at the silicon… we've been really focused about what we've taken out and only having things on when you need them [to be]"
FULLY LOADED: More power is sent to the GPU when required
"We could choose to go lower with TDP… we have a good spread from 9W to 45W in notebooks. It all goes down to 'what are the platforms OEMs are going to build?' – if they have a 35W platform, they don't want a 25W part. "
In our review, the AMD A8-3500M processor had an idle power draw of 15W, with peak CPU use of 44W and peak gaming use of 61W.
"Systems based on AMD technology have long been criticised for having a shorter battery life than systems based on competing technology," said Godfrey Cheng, head of AMD's client technology unit.
"This is no longer the case with the Sabine platform. In fact, internal testing demonstrates our Sabine platform will yield as good or better battery life than our competitor's current platforms. This battery life performance handily surpasses a competing platform that was purchased at retail."
POWER FRUGAL: AMD's Godfrey Cheng pits Llano against Core i3
Here's a video of the Sabine platform in action where a competing system and the AMD whitebook go head to head when rendering intensive graphics.
The AMD results shown here were carried out on exactly the same spec whitebook as we reviewed. The AMD Vision A8-3500M up against an Intel Core i3-2310M with Intel HD 300 Graphics
"This will be a shocker to many people including the competition," surmised Cheng. "As if the nearly 500 Gigaflops or Quad Core x86 combined with a Discrete Class DirectX 11-capable GPU wasn't enough, Llano has exceeded expectations in reducing our idle power consumption and increasing our power efficiency."