AMD has begun shipping a new dual-core applications processor unit designed for tablets running Microsoft's coming Windows 8 operating system. AMD's new Z-60 chip supports capabilities of interest to IT enterprise Relevant Products/Services managers and business professionals, including compatibility with Windows 7 as well as Windows 8.

"Probably the biggest consideration for AMD Z-60 versus Win RT, ARM-based tablets is compatibility with Windows legacy applications and enterprise security features like trusted platform module and hardware-based disk encryption," a company spokesperson told us Tuesday.

"Also, overall processor performance is superior with AMD, particularly in graphics-intensive environments like Web browsing and gaming," AMD's spokesperson said.

An Enhanced Graphics Experience

With the Z-60, Advanced Micro Devices aims to hit a sweet spot between cheaper, lower-performance tablets with ARM-based processors running Windows RT and higher-priced models equipped with Intel processors running Windows 8.

"Tablet users seeking an uncompromised experience for both creating and consuming content on the Microsoft Windows 8 platform now have a performance-driven, affordable option with the AMD Z-60 APU," said AMD Corporate Vice President Steve Belt.

During this year's holiday shopping season, Win 8 tablets launching with the Z-60 aboard will feature fast boot-up and wake times as well as deliver up to eight hours of Web browsing -- or six hours of video streaming -- from a single battery charge. And the new 1-gigahertz, dual-core chip is designed for use in tablets as thin as 10mm.

AMD's Z-60 chip integrates Radeon graphics support for video playback at full HD 1080p resolution as well as an HDMI output for connecting to external displays. The chip is capable of running Microsoft Direct X11 for the latest gaming applications.

Accelerated Business Apps

With ARM-based tablets, Belt said, the processing power just isn't there for delivering the high-resolution visual experiences that most users want. Belt also questioned whether there will really be much of a market for the $1,000 Win 8 tablets expected to launch with Intel's x86 "Clover Trail" processors.

AMD's Z-60 has been "designed to provide that balance of price, performance and battery life that delivers an experience that will keep users coming back," Belt wrote in a blog post.

According to AMD, the company's new Z-60 chip has been specifically designed to accelerate the performance of Internet Explorer 10 as well as Microsoft Office 2013 and the latest versions of Adobe Flash. Business professionals also will be pleased to learn that the new chip also supports applications written for previous versions of Windows as well as new apps written specifically for Windows 8.

Given that many vendors plan to launch new Windows 8 tablets featuring a keyboard cover, the dividing line is fast becoming blurred between what actually constitutes a netbook, notebook or Ultrabook on one hand and a tablet on the other. Indeed, research firms are still contemplating how to best categorize the devices during the current quarter -- when an array of new devices running Windows 8 and Win RT are expected to hit the global marketplace.

Mika Kitagawa, a principal analyst at Gartner, said the research firm has not yet made "a final decision on tracking" future Windows 8 and Windows RT tablet unit shipments. "I will let you know as soon as we [have] confirmed it," Kitagawa told us.