Laptop buyers do not have much of a choice in terms of CPUs these days with the market dominated by Sandy Bridge and other Intel solutions, but some competition is on the way. Today, AMD officially announced a full range of multi-core chips for laptops combining CPU and GPU, the so-called APUs (Accelerated Processing Units). These complement the AMD Fusion family, and were previously known as "Llano."

HD entertainment capability and discrete-level OpenCL and DirectX 11-enabled graphics, along with 10.5 hours of battery life, are among the features of the new chips. The A-series chips are built on a 32-nanometer process technology and are the only Sandy Bridge rival on the market. Until now, there have only been low-end C- and E-series AMD processors from the Fusion family, with E-350 being the most notable, featured in a number of netbooks (such as the Asus 1215b and Sony Vaio YB).

The newly-arrived A-series is used in three lines of processors, all being a combination of AMD, CPU and a Radeon GPU on a single circuit. The A4-3300M and A4-3310MX are low-end dual-core chips clocked at 1.9GHz and 2.1GHz respectively, equipped with a Radeon HD6480G clocked at 444MHz. Their main competition will be the cheapest Intel i3 chips. The quad-core mid-range A6-3400M and A6-3410MX contain 1.4GHz and 1.6GHz CPUs respectively, and a Radeon 6520G as a GPU. Finally, the quad-core high-end A8 line is aimed at enthusiast HD and 3D environments, and aspires to compete with Intel i7 chips. The A8 is clocked at up to 1.9GHz and equipped with Radeon HD6620G graphics.

The chips feature real-time image stabilization for use with streaming videos, along with a setup called Dual Graphics, that allows users to turn off the physically discrete GPU when the device is not plugged into an outlet, resulting in longer battery life. The AMD Fusion platform supports HDMI 1.4a, DisplayPort 1.1, and USB 3.0. According to AMD's own figures, A-series chips beat Intel's Sandy Bridge in terms of graphics performance, although it's probably fair to judge after the arrival of the first APU devices.

Hewlett-Packard is the first company to announce a full line of A-series laptops. Eleven existing models will now feature AMD APUs, including the HP Pavilion G4, G6 and G7 (prices range from US$449.99 to US$499), the HP ProBook b-series at US$679 and s-series at US$519. APU-powered HP laptops will be available in late June and early July.

The video below explains more about what an APU is:

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