AMD A-Series APU's


AMD Fusion Llano

It has been a long time since AMD were King of the Hill, not that the general public knew when they were, anyway. Very few people know that AMD were the first company to break the 1Ghz speed barrier with their Athlon Thunderbird processors. Even more remarkable is the fact that the new Speed Kings were selling for a fraction of the cost of their Intel counterparts.

When Intel surpassed AMD in terms of pure processing speed, AMD concentrated on architectural improvements, resulting in a quicker system even when compared against the higher clocked Intel processors. AMD knew pure speed was not the answer and concentrated on getting more instructions processed per clock cycle which gave them an advantage. The early Pentium 4 series were no match for AMD in terms of performance, and Intel were dogged by overheating processors with the release of their dual core Pentium D series, which surely contributed to their dismal performance when comparing an equivalently priced AMD processor alongside it. AMD held the crown for almost four years, and Intel was hard at work in the mean time.

AMD lost its crown in 2004 with the release of Intel’s Core 2 Duo processors, and has been playing catch up ever since. In any other business this might have signalled the end, but the business world looks at profit margins - AMD continued to offer solid processors for the server environment and a plethora of budget CPU’s for the desktop and mobile markets, ensuring their survival. AMD made its intentions clear when it purchased graphics cards manufacturer, ATI, in 2006. ATI, and nVidia have been tossing the Graphics Card King crown around for more than a decade. AMD was serious about staying in business, just as nVidia was when they bought Voodoo FX in 1998. At that point, nothing could touch Voodoo FX in the 3D graphics card display world.

The new AMD A-series of APU’s is an exciting development. What is an APU you might ask? According to Wiki an APU is “any processing system that includes additional processing capability designed to accelerate one or more types of computations outside of a CPU”.

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AMD have been working on their Fusion (fusion of CPU and GPU) APU's since they acquired ATI in 2006, and it is only now that the technological advances are starting to bear fruition with the release of their A series Llano processors. Just as Intel put their heads down and sought a solution to their woes, so has AMD. While Llano might not be an Intel killer in the desktop market, it is certainly looking like it might shake things up in the mobile computing sphere.

AMD have concentrated on areas that people are most likely to see benefit from, without paying the earth. Real-time image stabilization springs to mind – imagine viewing your home made videos without the shakes and jitters. AMD’s A-series APU’s feature real-time image processing to stabilize your footage and make it look as if though it was shot by a professional, or close – no additional software required, only your A-series APU coupled with a discrete GPU.

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Let us not be mistaken – for the AMD APU to work with what we just spoke about, you will still need a dedicated GPU in your laptop/desktop. The beauty, especially for the mobile environment is that, when you are not running graphics intensive applications, all the work is done by your APU thereby saving your battery life.

Dell was the first on the bandwagon to start shipping AMD A series systems, which speaks volumes of the faith one of the world’s largest computer distributors. At Intersect IT, we value competition – it encourages innovation. When you have a one horse town, demand outstrips supply and prices rocket. Let us hope that AMD can extend its innovation to the desktop and give Intel a run for its money.

You can find more information on AMD's AMDUnprocessed's Youtube Channel here. Tom's Hardware has a review here.

Laptops and Netbooks

Low(er) Power Processing

How do we make a difference to the world we live in and live up to the expectation that, at some point, every single person on this planet will have to contribute to reducing carbon emissions and become socially responsible for their environment?

It is hard to imagine that one would get a decent level of performance out of a processor that is clearly designated as an energy saver, but that is exactly what Intel have achieved with their T and S series Core i5 processors. Couple this with the fact that all second generation Core i5 and i7 processors have a graphics processing unit on-die, and you are already making rapid advances in the area of green computing. Having on-die GPU capabilities not only reduces the need for additional chips on the motherboard, but if you are not a graphics intensive user, it seriously reduces your carbon footprint by negating the need for an additional addon graphics card altogether.

We are not discussing the Core i3 (primarily designated as a mobile chip) or the Core i5 2500K out of this comparison as that is primarily an overclocker’s chip, falling out of the realm of normal usage, and yes, using even more power as you ramp up clock speeds.

Let us compare Intel’s Core i5 2500 chip in its 3 different iterations.

Intel Core i5 2500

Intel Core i5 2500 Specifications

Intel Core i5 2500S

Intel Core i5 2500S Specifications

Intel Core i5 2500T

Intel Core i5 2500T Specifications


The standard Core i5 2500 clocks in with a healthy 3.2Ghz operating speed, ramping up to 3.7Ghz under extreme usage, with a maximum TDP (Thermal Design Power) of 95 Watts. The Core i5 2500S clocks in at a modest 2.7Ghz, ramping up to 3.7Ghz under load, with a TDP of only 65 Watts. The Core i5 2500T comes in at 2.3Ghz, ramping up to 3.3Ghz under load, with a sublime TDP of 45 Watts.

There you have it, three processors from the same family, all with different power requirements, yet the same amounts of cache, and the same levels of data bandwidth. The punch line here is that you do not really need to be running at 3.2Ghz when you are typing a letter, working on an Excel spreadsheet, or even watching a movie, especially when you have a quad core processor.

The beauty of Intel’s lower power offerings is that they are capable of ramping up their speeds when your system demands it i.e. video decoding, gaming, and other processor intensive applications. Not only are you using less power in general usage, but when you buy one of these lower power chips you are sending a message to Intel that people are willing to do their bit for a greener world, and that their innovations have not gone unnoticed. Not only will you be doing your bit, but the energy saved will slice a bit off your electricity bill, especially if you have a family with more than one computer.

Power Saving

Can Nokia Rise Once Again?

Nokia Logo

Author: WP T

Walk into any mobile phone store in town and you'll see rows of new touch screen mobile phones. Apple, HTC, Samsung. Then, there's our long forgotten friend Nokia. It is becoming increasingly difficult to remember the time when Nokia dominated the cell phone market. Remember the old nokia 3310, the most hardy, well received phone introduced in 2000? Not so much I guess.

The good news is that Nokia is still the world's largest handset maker. The bad news is that it is not doing quite so well these days. The Finnish company recently lowered its projections for the second quarter this year causing its shares to plummet a good 15.52%. Analysts have slashed forecasts for fear of not being able to pull off a quick turnaround to halt the decline in market share. The company is clearly buckling under the immense pressure from competitors such as Apple and HTC that have created stellar phones. The question is, can Nokia rise again?

Answering the call
The Nokia success story (in the past) can be attributed to the fact that the Finnish company answered fundamental consumer needs at that period of time. Consumers wanted a phone that was reliable, a phone that wasn't so clunky and thick and a phone that was for once, ergonomic. The Finnish firm delivered on all these aspects and created a line of phones that were widely accepted by the world.

The Wheel of Fortune Spins
Success was sweet for Nokia but it didn't last for long. In 2007 Apple Inc. launched the very first Iphone and that marked Nokia's official descent into darkness. The Iphone opened the floodgates for a whole bunch of technologically superior phones from other manufacturers. These phones outsmarted what Nokia had to offer.
But perhaps the main reasons for the company's decline are exactly the same as those that brought it fame and fortune a decade ago; Nokia had failed to innovate and to answer consumer needs. The company was not aware of the changing needs.

People change
In 2000, there were already signs of change. Apple inc. released the first iPod in 2001 and that made the world realize their own hidden desires - The desire to have multi functional portable devices that complimented the lifestyles of individuals. Devices started to become technologically more advanced with focus on entertainment and lifestyle (Videos, music etc.). Phones also became more stylish and ergonomic for the user. The same attributes that were desired for in the past were taken as a given as technology improved.

A Drowning Man Will Cling To A Straw
Nokia realizes that the best way to compete in the new market is to seek strong allies. In partnering Microsoft, Nokia will soon (we hope) be dishing out phones that have an incredibly fast interface as its smartphone platform. The WP7 apps market may be still in its hatchling stage, but this could grow in time, since it boasts an easier app development platform compared to those of iPhone and Android. Is it enough to outfox the current big competitors? Only time will tell.

Is Nokia Finnish-ed?
Nokia has lost significant share in the global cell phone market. Is this the end of Nokia? Not yet. It does seem that Nokia is experiencing relative success in the developing world. The company has been rolling out services to emerging markets in Brazil, China, India, and parts of Africa where there's a high demand for affordable, practical mobile services.

The needs of these developing countries closely resemble those same needs in the early stages of mobile phone development. Nokia's low-cost handsets allow Nokia to have a significant leg-up on competition in emerging markets across the world, including two of the biggest - China and India.

So can the former champion reclaim its spot at the top? Well yes, if it focuses on answering the needs of consumers in the developing world. As for the developed world, it would need to seriously reconsider the needs and wants of consumers in the developing world.

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About the Author

BrandHub is a Singapore based strategic brand consultancy dedicated to creating and building Leader Brands in Asia. Established in 2003, BrandHub has been voted the leading independent brand consultants in Singapore by readers of Marketing Magazine in 2007 and 2008. BrandHub's clients include SingTel, Certis, RedRock, National Heritage Board and National Library Board.

Mobile Communications

Asus Eee Pad Transformer TF101

Asus Eee Pad Transformer

It seems Asus means business in the tablet and netbook sector. The Asus Eee Pad Transformer TF101 bridges the gap between netbook and tablet in a rather unique way with the inclusion of an optional docking keyboard, available as a separate purchase, which transforms the Eee Pad into a netbook.

It is an Android 3.0 Honeycomb tablet, with a price that shatters anything that its rivals have thus far been prepared to offer. Often such aggressive pricing is accompanied by loss of functionality and/or or features – Asus have not sacrificed much to bring to market an incredibly feature-packed offering. The only option you might miss is the optional cellular module offered by some of the other brands. Since you have Wireless N connectivity, it is not really that much of an issue, and when comparing the base price from all, minus cellular connectivity, the Asus Transformer still shines.

There are three versions available - 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB variants, all sporting an nVidia Tegra 2 dual-core 1GHz processor, front and rear cameras, HDMI output, and SD expansion capabilities. Nothing really sets modern tablets apart in terms of performance when using the same Honeycomb OS, and the nVidia processor, so when it comes to bang-for-buck, the Asus is a clear winner.

One of the major criticisms being levelled against Android tablets is the dearth of 3rd party applications. While this may be true when compared against the more mature iPad platform, there are still a wealth of Android applications to suit most needs on the Android market. As the Android platform matures, so will availability of 3rd party applications. For now, Asus has thought of just about everything a person a would want to do on their Transformer. MyLibrary consolidates downloaded books, magazines and newspapers in to one easy step.

While ASUS' Waveshare Interface hosts a variety of unique applications such as MyNet, MyLibrary, MyCloud and more. MyNet easily streams digital media wirelessly within home network devices so HD videos or music can be played on devices such as an HDTV or desktop PCs for an even better experience from the Transformer.

The MyCloud application is a total cloud solution, providing access to digital content such as music, videos and files from the cloud anywhere, anytime. Users can even use MyCloud to remotely access and control any PC or Mac system and access applications or files to extend the versatility of the Eee Pad Transformer experience. Asus Sync synchronizes your contacts and calendar with your PC or MAC.

Asus Eee Pad Transformer with Optional Keyboard

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