PC vendors unleash mainstream AMD Fusion laptops and desktops, focus on low power consumption

AMD Fusion APU finds its way into ultraportable laptops and all-in-one PCs from Acer, ASUS, Dell, Fujitsu, HP, Lenovo, MSI, Samsung, Sony, Toshiba

Acer, Dell, HP, MSI, Sony and Toshiba were among the first vendors to showcase new notebooks and all-in-one PCs based on AMD's Fusion APU (accelerated processing unit) yesterday at an event in Sydney. The initial systems from these vendors will have a primary focus on long battery life and cool operating temperatures, while at the same time providing faster-than-usual graphics performance in small form factors.

Which CPU should you buy? Intel Sandy Bridge vs. AMD Fusion

In what is a departure from conventional processor releases, where high-end parts are released first and then mainstream parts follow, AMD has released its mainstream Fusion APU models first, ahead of super-high-end models. The mainstream models will facilitate thin and light computing form factors while providing improved graphics performance against competing Intel-based platforms. The new Fusion APUs incorporate the CPU as well as DirectX 11-capable discrete graphics on the same die and the overall size of the chip is said to be no bigger than an Australian five cent piece.

The initial Fusion APUs from AMD will be the C-Series (formerly codenamed Ontario) and E-Series (formerly codenamed Zacate), which have up to two cores. Fusion APUs with four CPU cores will appear in systems in mid-2011. The E-Series Fusion APU will be available in mainstream laptops and all-in-one desktop PCs, while the C-Series Fusion APU will be found in ultra-small form factors such as netbooks and tablets. One of the first netbooks to be released with the C-Series Fusion platform is Toshiba's NB550D, which we reviewed in January 2011.

Video acceleration is a key part of the new Fusion APUs and already numerous applications from vendors such as Adobe, Nero, CyberLink, EA, Codemasters, ArcSoft and Roxio all support the Fusion platform. With hardware-based acceleration happening seamlessly for the user, the Fusion platform is said to offer smooth HD video playback even in low-end netbooks and entry-level systems.

"AMD Fusion will provide our technology partners with the ability to create new and exciting form factors as well as leading-edge applications designed to cater to consumer needs," said Brian Slattery, country manager for AMD in Australia and New Zealand.

One of the new form factors on display at the launch event yesterday was a tablet from Acer running on Windows 7, which plugs into a base housing a full-size keyboard.

Stay tuned to PC World for more reviews on Fusion-based notebooks in the coming weeks.

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