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AMD Unveils "Puma" Laptop Chipset

At Computex in Taipei today, chipmaker AMD took the wraps off of its newest mobile chipset, code named "Puma." The launch is much-anticipated, as AMD has fallen behind rival Intel in the last 18 months, and has experienced delays and financial losses as a result.

The Puma platform is centered around of a new version of the Turion processor, called the Turion X2 Ultra, which features dual-core performance, but with new power-saving abilities to turn off the second core when not in use. The new processor is paired with both integrated and discrete ATI Radeon Mobility 3000-series GPUs, including the top-end Radeon Mobility 3800, a new GPU that AMD also unveiled today.

AMD is betting heavily on 3D graphics and HD-resolution video processing as key drivers of consumer demand in the laptop market, and three new technologies in the Puma platform address this. A dynamic GPU-switching system that AMD calls "PowerXPress" allows for systems equipped with both discrete and integrated GPUs to automatically switch to the lower-power integrated GPU when the unit is unplugged, thereby saving battery life. AMD claims that this feature can enable an extra 90 minutes of battery life.

The converse of this is what AMD calls "Hybrid CrossFireX," a technology that allows both the integrated and discrete GPUs to work in tandem when power consumption is less of an issue, and to provide increased graphics performance.

AMD also announced an external PCIe 2.0 breakout box that could be connected to Puma systems to make use of full desktop-level graphic card performance.

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