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AMD takes aim at the notebook market with new 12-core processors

The sixth generation of the chip maker's processors will feature four processing cores and up to eight graphics cores.

A Dell Inspiron 15 powered by the A10-8700P with 4GB RAM running a League of Legends replay with nary a stutter. Aloysius Low/CNET

TAIPEI -- Announced Wednesday at Computex, AMD's latest A-Series processors will come in 3 flavors and are designed for serious online streaming and gaming. The 3 variants come packing discrete graphics cores in the form of a Radeon R6 or R7 for better visual performance, and the chips in range will have a total number of either 10 or 12 cores.

This translates to a piece of silicon loaded with four x86 processing cores and either six or eight graphics processor unit (GPU) cores. Codenamed Carrizo, the processing cores use the new "Excavator" chips, which are designed for laptops, and pack either a six-core Radeon R6 on the A10-8700P and A8-8600P, or an eight-core Radeon R7 on the FX-8800P to handle graphics.

The chip maker is hoping its latest efforts may help it gain some ground in the notebook market, but it has far to go against its main rival, Intel, which has its chips powering at least 90 percent of the 45.1 million notebooks in the market last year. Instead of competing in the high-end market where Intel is dominant, AMD has turned to budget and midrange devices to stay in the game. As such, the new A-Series processors will be used for notebooks in the $400 to $700 segment (that's around £260-£455, AU$510-AU$900 respectively).

These new chips will support the HEVC/H.265 codec through a built-in decoder. The codec allows for higher quality video streams and uses less bandwidth, but requires a bit more processing power. Since it's also the codec used for 4K playback on Netflix for smart TVs, it could mean streaming 4K Netflix to your laptop in the future, should Netflix chose to support this.

Other features include better gaming performance, with AMD also claiming it's possible to play popular competitive online games such as Dota 2 unplugged for two hours at full-HD at more than 30 frames per second. There's also support for AMD's Gesture Control, which lets you wave your hand to control your notebook, somewhat like Microsoft's Kinect technology.

"We're going to win on graphics, and what you see here is twice the performance of an Intel Core i7," said Kevin Lensing, AMD's senior director, product management at the Computex press conference.

However, it remains to be seen if AMD can pull it off. Far from its heyday when it was neck-and-neck with Intel, AMD is struggling. Perhaps its sixth-generation A-Series processors with their rich feature set will be the change AMD needs.

More Computex coverage can be found at our hub, so click here to head over.