x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

AMD aims to make tablet chips by next year

AMD, which has Abu Dhabi's Mubadala as its largest shareholder, will be developing microchips for tablet devices that could be available as early as next year.

Tablet computers equipped with microchips made by Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) are set be in stores as early as next year.

AMD, which makes the microchips that provide the main computing power for personal computers and servers, is waiting for improvements in battery life to begin developing for tablet devices.

"We don't have a crystal ball but we do see an explosion of [growth] in different form factors such as tablets," said Chekib Akrout, the senior vice president and general manager for AMD technology.

"We are getting ourselves prepared for potentially even more disruptive technology over the next five years. The way we play it is to think of mobility at higher levels so we don't get ourselves squeezed in different form factors."

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Mubadala Development, a strategic investment company owned by the Abu Dhabi Government, is AMD's largest shareholder with a 19.3 per cent stake.

Hesitation to enter the mobile electronic market segment was cited as one of the main reasons AMD's former chief executive Dirk Meyer stepped down last month. AMD is being led by Tom Seifert, the company's chief financial officer, on an interim basis.

Mr Akrout said management at AMD was stable and the company was looking forward to appointing a new chief executive.

Intel, AMD's chief rival, has already made forays into developing microchips processors for the mobile market and is seeking partners for its MeeGo operating system.

Nokia was developing mobile devices for MeeGo but dropped the platform after announcing a partnership with Microsoft and its Windows Phone 7 operating system last week.

But chip makers such as AMD and Intel have stepped carefully into the mobile market as it typically generates lower profit margins than more powerful computers such as PCs and servers.

Mr Akrout said he envisioned tablets with AMD technology to be able to access information and various applications directly from the "cloud".

Cloud computing is the term for filing data on a connected network of computer servers that is easily accessible from the internet.

"Mobility is coming, it's huge and we're going to extend ourselves there," said Mr Akrout. "We're not going to get to the [mobile] phone because we don't see it as a market we can … differentiate ourselves."

He said the company might look at adopting the ARM standard into its microchips. ARMs are microchip blueprints adopted by many mobile phone chip makers that offer high performance using low battery power.

AMD makes chips using the "x86" standard that is commonly designed for strong computing power in desktops and high-end laptops, and requires significantly more battery life than the ARM guidelines.

The shift in how AMD makes its microchips may help to solve the problem of combining AMD's energy-intensive technology with devices that have limited battery life, Mr Akrout said.

dgeorgecosh@thenational.ae