AMD was one of the last chip makers to make a play for the netbook space. While Intel and VIA duked it out in the early days of netbooks, AMD stood by the sidelines. Eventually AMD introduced its first Neo line of chips to limited success. This summer the company launched its Nile platform, which I’ve been very impressed with, and that’s just the beginning. AMD plans to continue pumping out low power chips with high performance graphics for the foreseeable future.

Basically AMD took a wait-and-see approach to the budget ultraportable notebook space. Once it looked like this new class of computers had some staying power, AMD made its play and so far it’s been a pretty good play.

Now AMD says it’s taking the same approach toward tablets. This year virtually every major PC maker and an awful lot of minor ones as well have announced plans to develop slate computers. Many will ship with low power ARM-based processors. Some will use Intel chips. AMD is waiting on the sidelines.

That doesn’t mean AMD won’t launch a platform for tablets in the future. The company just has no plans to get in on the ground floor. In an interview with InsideHW, AMD VP Leslie Sobon pointed out that while tablets are hot items right now, some analysts expect as many as 300 million netbooks to be sold this year (that sounds high to me, but she might be counting 11 and 12 inch notebooks in that class). Meanwhile, AMD isn’t swearing of slates… the company just wants to see if anyone other than Apple actually manages to make a dent in the tablet space before sinking time and money into tablet projects.

That sounds a lot like the approach we heard about a few months ago, but it’s always nice when you can attribute these statements to an actual person.

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3 replies on “AMD’s wait and see approach to tablets”

  1. If AMD really is interested in tablets then it needs an ARM design, the only advantage of Bobcat is a x86 CPU and can therefore run windows, and the windows environment is built explicitly around mouse & keyboard with touch as a useful extra, not vice versa.

    Yes Bobcat is low powered enough to be used in a tablet, but why would you want to, the power characteristics of ARM will always be better, and the development ecosystem for tablet apps and games is clustered around ARM linux and OpenGL ES 2.0.

  2. I’ve been pretty consistent on my feelings about tablets. Like all the 3D TV announcements, the manufacturers often assume people will rush out what they are building.

    Here is a thought to ponder about tablets….

    Is is not possible (yes this is possible) that those people who are obsessed with tablets have in fact bought the iPad? In other words, the iPad is the big seller and it’s a huge success, but it’s possible that outside that core audience, there isn’t the pent up massive demand for tablets. Based on all the Vanilla Android tablets, you would assume that people are going to line up for hours to get their hands on one.

    I’m sure these guys are a lot smarter than me, but if I was running a company investing in tablets, I would be like AMD. I would consider the fact that the “market” is an illusion. Would be a shame, but I wouldn’t lose any sleep over it.

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