AMD gives FX processors new lease of life with first laptop chips

AMD is adding a new FX laptop processor line to supplement stagnant FX desktop chips

AMD's high-performance FX desktop processors were on ice recently, but the product line is getting a new lease of life by going into laptops for the first time.

The company announced two new FX laptop processors that will be AMD's flagship offerings, and will be among the company's fastest laptop chips. AMD has offered FX chips for years, but only for high-end and gaming desktops.

The FX chips will be targeted at premium laptops and take on Intel's fastest laptop chips, said Kevin Lensing, senior director for mobility products at AMD.

"Now it's time to position... against the Core i7," Lensing said.

The chips will be based on the company's latest Kaveri microarchitecture and have integrated graphics cores based on the Radeon graphics architecture. The FX chips were announced at the Computex trade show in Taipei on Wednesday.

There was uncertainty around the future of the FX line as AMD said it would not upgrade the aging desktop chips this year. The CPU-only FX desktop chips are based on the older Piledriver microarchitecture, but have a dedicated following among gamers who overclock chips, use separate graphics cards and build high-end gaming rigs. However, AMD plans to move away the desktop FX processors from CPU-only chips to integrated chips with CPUs and GPUs.

AMD is hoping that the strong recognition for the FX brand name will bring the same level of following in laptops as it has in desktops. The fastest FX chip delivers a total of 818 gigaflops of processing power, which Lensing said was "console-like." AMD claims its top-line FX laptop chip is 58 percent faster on graphics than Intel's Core i7-4500U chip, and 52 percent faster on overall system performance.

The company did not provide numbers for CPU performance, but Intel's CPU architecture is widely considered to be superior.

The FX chips also deliver a better gaming experience through support for Mantle, a low-level gaming API much like Microsoft's DirectX. Mantle enables games to be faster, and AMD's tests showed Mantle-based games outperforming DirectX 11.2 games.

Another new feature is unified memory for GPUs and CPUs, with more system memory available to processors. AMD's FX chips are compatible with HSA (Heterogeneous System Architecture) Foundation specifications, which provide the underlying tools for unified memory and faster execution of programs via the scheduler.

The quad-core chips include the 35-watt FX-7600P with the eight high-end Radeon R7 Graphics 12 and CPU clock speed between 2.7GHz and 3.6GHz. The other is the 19-watt AMD FX-7500 with six R7 Graphics GPUs and CPU clock speed between 2.1GHz and 3.3GHz. The chips have 4MB of cache and support DirectX 11.2 for gaming.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

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