AMD's Pro APUs for business launch quietly with just one major customer, HP

Based on the Godaveri and Carrizo chips, AMD adds its AMD Secure Processor for corporate peace of mind. Whether anyone will buy is the open question.

Credit: Gordon Mah Ung

On Tuesday, AMD quietly launched an updated family of AMD Pro processors for business notebooks that are based on the existing Godaveri and Carrizo chips, but with additional security and stability features for businesses.

The new Pro chips include the new AMD Pro A12 chip, which runs at 3.4GHz. All of the new Pro chips are APUs, which mean that they combine both graphics as well as the CPU core. The A12 integrates 12 compute cores (4 CPU cores and 8 GPU cores), based on the Radeon R7 graphics technology running at 800MHz.

What differentiates the new PRO chips from the more conventional models are what AMD calls the AMD Secure Processor, an embedded core that enables the ARM TrustZone secure environment to run on top of the chip. Theoretically, at least, the technology should supply an added layer of security to sensitive apps.

Although AMD markets its Pro chips to whoever will buy them, HP has been a favored customer. HP has built in its AMD PRO chips into the EliteBook 725, 745 and 755 series notebooks as well as the Lenovo M79  and HP EliteDesk 705 desktops. On Tuesday, HP launched the HP EliteBook 705 G3 series with the new Pro chips inside them. The business notebook weighs 2.78 pounds and includes 12.5-inch, 14.0-inch and 15.6-inch displays.

Specialized business features

AMD has said previously that the Carrizo chips offer substantial improvements in battery life compared to their predecessors, “Kaveri,” as well as the Core chips marketed by rival Intel. AMD launched the Carrizo chips in June.

The new Pro chips also contain features that were launched with the earlier chips, such as Heterogenous Systems Architecture (HSA 1.0) compliance to allow programmers to more easily program the CPU, as well as an integrated HEVC video decoder.

All of the new Pro chips also come with a 24-month longevity commitment from AMD to support the new chips, along with a related 18-month “image stability” commitment to leave the associated driver software unchanged. AMD also supplies an AMD Pro Control Center to help manage system configuration.

Why this matters: AMD needs every penny of revenue it can get, so it makes sense to pursue the business market with its Pro line. But you can’t help but wonder who besides HP will sign on for these chips in notebooks. What should make AMD a bit nervous, though, is the fact that AMD reported a disastrous second quarter—and it did so because of poor demand for APUs like the AMD Pro.

This story, "AMD's Pro APUs for business launch quietly with just one major customer, HP" was originally published by PCWorld.