AMD Mullins tablet chip brings impressive gaming power to tablets

Published 
24 Feb 2014
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Very-nearly-playable frame rates in proper 3D games from 2W power draw

AMD was showing off its "Mullins" tablet processors at MWC, and the new chips have some serious graphical power.

Mullins replaces the Temash processor we saw last year, which was capable of playing less-demanding 3D games such as the Torchlight 2 RPG at playable frame rates.

Dirt Showdown is tantalisingly close to being smoothly playable on the low-power chip

Mullins draws less power than Temash, at around 2W compared to 3-4W, and has far more 3D power. AMD was running Dirt Showdown on its stand, which is our favoured graphics benchmark and a reasonably challenging title. At a 1,280x720 resolution and the lowest detail setting, we saw an average of 22fps from the title, which is almost playable. Showdown is more challenging than most titles, so the tablet should be able to play indie games without a problem, and even have a stab at less challenging 2.5D titles such as Trine 2.

AMD Nano

AMD wasn't just showing off Mullins-based tablets; it was also keen to demonstrate a Mullins-based mini PC.

Intel's NUC mini-PC platform has gained a lot of attention, but AMD was keen to go one better with its AMD Nano concept PC. While the NUC is as big as a can of spam, the Nano is about as big as four rashers of bacon. AMD's prototype was designed to perch on top of a TV or monitor, so you could use the front-facing webcam to make Skype calls, for example.

AMD Nano

We love mini PCs, and they keep getting smaller

The mini PC has just one connector – what AMD calls DockPort. This is essentially a DisplayPort socket with built-in USB and power support. This means that you can have a single cable running to a device, which can then plug into a dock with power, USB and display connectors. The Nano, for example, had a Mini DockPort connector (which looks identical to Mini DisplayPort) plugged into a small dock with USB, full-size DisplayPort and DC power inputs, to feed back up the cable and power the Nano PC. This certainly cuts down on cable clutter with a Nano perched on top of your display. Acer apparently already uses a DockPort connector in some of its laptops.

AMD DockPort

The DockPort connector carries video, USB and power from a single hub to a tablet, laptop or mini PC

AMD has no plans to do an Intel and bring the Mini PC to market itself, but it is certainly interested in getting OEMs involved. We'd certainly be interested.

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