AMD Fusion APU and Graphics Update: Trinity, 7000M Mobile GPUs, Android on X86 and Lightning Bolt

We’re still fighting our way through the insanity that is the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas, but wanted to take a break to share some more juicy news with you all. We just got out of a meeting with the folks at AMD in which they showed us some current and future APU offerings, new I/O technology, and provided a bit of info regarding upcoming Radeon HD 7000M series graphics processors.

First up we have a video showing an upcoming Trinity APU in action. We don’t want to give away the “ah ha” moment in the video, but what’s interesting—along with the actual demo—is that AMD already has Trinity up and running, and running well as you’ll see. Particulars like clock speeds and the GPU configuration weren’t disclosed, but we can tell you that the Trinity APU in the notebook used during the demo was a 17w variant, and as AMD has already disclosed, the Trinity APU sports quad Piledriver cores, an update to Bulldozer that should offer better performance though not only architectural enhancements but frequency increases as well.


In a backroom session in which we weren’t able to snap any photos, AMD also showed us some interesting I/O technology, currently codenamed “Lightning Bolt” (not to be confused with Intel’s Thunderbolt). With Lightning Bolt, AMD aims to offer the ultimate docking station of sorts for AMD-based mobile devices. Using a $40-ish hub, users will be able to connect a single DisplayPort 1.2 cable to a mobile PC to not only charge the system, but to connect it to up to four external displays and multiple external USB 3.0 devices.

In another backdoor session, we also got a chance to see a number of Radeon HD 7000M series GPUs up and running. As has already been disclosed, the first wave of Radeon HD 7000M GPUs will be 40nm parts based on the AMD’s VLIW5 architecture, like the existing Radeon HD 6000M series parts. But we also saw a couple of new, 28nm mobile GPUs (running in both standalone and CrossFire configurations) based on the Pitcairn asic that feature AMD’s Graphics Core Next, which debuted in the Radeon HD 7970.

AMD also had a number of other devices on hand running various Oses and apps. They showed an alpha version of a Metro-style AMD Vision Control Center, running on a Windows 8 tablet streaming video to an HDTV. AMD also had a beta version of the Blue-Stacks Android App player running on a Windows 8-based PC. If you’re unfamiliar with BlueStacks, it gives users the ability to run Android apps on a Windows PC in a virtualized Android environment, and with the Windows 8 beta version, users can simply add shortcuts to the Metro interface to directly launch the apps.


Another very cool demo in the AMD booth featured an MSI-built, AMD-based tablet PC running Android 4, Ice Cream Sandwich. The 10-inch MSI WindPad used in the demo was outfitted with an AMD Z-Series Z-01 (1.0GHz) CPU, 4GB of DDR3 Memory, and Radeon HD 6250-series graphics. As you’ll see in the video, ICS ran well on the tablet and was smooth and responsive. Although still an early alpha that wasn’t fully functional, hardware acceleration was working, as is evidenced by the silky smooth graphics and scrolling.

Stay tuned into HH for more CES news as it unfolds.