PCR interviews AMD's UK consumer country manager James Pank as the first notebooks powered by AMD's 6th gen A-series processor (formerly known as Carrizo) launch.
What kind of reaction have you seen for the 6th generation A-Series APU from your partners and your customers?
We’ve actually seen very positive feedback, we started off with very strong press reviews for the APU itself and now we’re actually seeing the product arriving in retailers this month in finished consumer systems. They’re literally arriving as we speak and it’s been very, very positive.
Last month, we had some very initial stock arrive have actually sold out already but the bulk of the range in the finished consumer systems from worldwide vendors, that stuff is landing now. Obviously when the APU was announced that was just the chip alone. But the actual systems from Lenovo, HP, Asus are arriving as we speak.
How excited are you about the launch of the new 6th gen APU powered notebooks?
We’re really excited – this is a big step forwards for us, with some fantastic technology that we think consumers are looking for. It suits a lot of things that people are doing on a day-to-day basis and it helps them.
Having a long day battery life is one thing, but having an all-day battery life and being able to stream videos and watch TV anywhere on a mobile device, we think is a fantastic step forward, so that’s what we’re looking forward to.
More consumers are using their mobile devices to stream video and watch videos on the move. How did that factor into development of AMD's 6th gen APU?
I think if you look at how people go about their daily lives now, more and more people are watching TV and video to suit their lifestyles, which means they’re not just watching TV at 8 o’clock on a Tuesday and 6 o’clock on Saturday night, they want to watch the programmes when they want to watch them. So there has been a huge increase of people watching catch up TV and on demand TV etc, and I think that’s where this technology really comes into its own.
There are three key things with this new 6th gen product. The first thing is superior streaming, it comes with a whole set of new technology, which simply means you can use less bandwidth, you can have higher quality than the previous generation of products out there, so the streaming experience is much, much better and because it’s a lot more efficient, the battery life on this version is twice as long as it was previously, so you can take a mobile device and not be constrained to a power lead at all times.
And then there’s the graphics capability, which is much better. And it’s not just with TV, as it’s also with online games, and gaming in general is much, much better so you get a smoother experience as well as better battery life.
So we’re making a mobile device that is more than just for the work stuff and can be for a lot more of the fun and entertainment stuff, which might have been a bit more restricted previously, because the system performance wasn’t quite as strong and the battery life was always in consideration.
From a gaming perspective it seems notebooks are becoming a viable alternative to the desktop - they're more powerful and accessible than before.
I think you’ve got a very fair point. I think what you can do – the performance you get now compared to a couple of years ago is a significant improvement from what you could do, say a couple of years ago. And from a graphics point of view, you can do amazing things with machines that don’t come with a graphics card.
The graphics are standard now using the Radeon technology inside, it’s very capable for the majority of the games out there, but if you really get into the high-end games then you’ll push the framerates right up and you’ll need a dedicated card.
Games are there for the masses rather than just niche players, and the online world is really driving that. And as I said that’s where our technology is really doing a fantastic job.
Talking of gaming, DirectX 12 is a very exciting development, as is Mantle. How important was it for Carrizo to support those and how do you anticipate PC gaming will evolve on notebooks in the future?
I think it’s obviously critical that our products really work with the latest operating system, and naturally they do. they’ve been designed with that in mind.
And in terms of DX12, I think it’s a fantastic step forward and from a gaming point of view it really allows the workflow to be spread far more efficiently across the cores of the APU, rather than just trying to work on the first core of the product.
I suppose it’s a bit like a really good manager delegating his workload across the team, rather than trying to do it all himself. By delegating the work you get far more done a lot more effectively, and that’s what DX12. So from a gaming point of view, with new games coming out that couldn’t have come to market with DX11, you’re going to see better games, stronger games, more immersive and dynamic games.
I think it’s a really strong, a great step forward and the new AMD technology fits in perfectly with this.
What are your thoughts on Windows 10 - how will that help drive systems of Carrizo and notebooks in general?
I think from an AMD point of view, it’s not just a new operating system. For us we also have our 6th generation products launching on new form factors from the manufacturers. So from a consumer point of view there’s new technology from AMD, it’s in the latest and greatest form factors, plus it has the new operating system from Microsoft.
So I think those three things really give a strong reason for the consumer to either buy a new system, or to upgrade from an old one. So in conjunction with everything else we have, I think that’s the real strong reasons why I think it should do well.
Desktop and tablet sales are falling but notebooks and all-in-ones are quite resilient. Do you expect that trend to continue? What are your thoughts on the current health of the industry?
Obviously, it’s very difficult to predict the future, if you look at the market it’s up and down. Past trends don’t necessarily mean that’s what is going to happen going forwards.
I think if you look at the desktop side, there’s huge growth in PC gaming and online gaming is really growing strongly. The performance you can get from a system now from both an APU and GPU is really strong. It’s on the up.
And then things like virtual reality are just round the corner now. It may not be widely available within retail distribution yet, but it’s coming and when it does come, it will still need some decent graphics horsepower to run it, and I think the majority of that is going to come from the desktop side. So there’s plenty of life left in desktop products.
I think if you look at next year, with the virtual reality stuff that’s coming to market, I think that’s really going to be an exciting time for the desktop space. As for as the health of the market and the industry goes, products are getting lighter, more powerful and more efficient, with better battery life.
And with our 6th gen products you can stream up to 4K resolutions. These are all things you couldn’t do previously, so the technology is continuing to go forwards and get better. So there’s plenty of life left in the industry and there’s still tens of millions of units being bought every year. Everyone is using a computing device of some sort and I don’t see that changing at all.
AMD has described the 6th A-Series Processor as being the most versatile notebook processor that’s ever been produced. So how are you going to better that, and where do you go from here?
I guess it’s like every gen. We expect the products to get more powerful and more efficient. The key thing is trying to get the balance between making it super efficient and maintaining the power, so you’ve got all that coming up – and new features. We want to make the products a fantastic experience, it’s not just number crunching, it’s how people work with their devices and interact with them. It’s that type of stuff you’ll see.