All Eyes on Advanced Micro Devices’ Mullins

Advanced Micro Devices' new tablet chip hasn't found its way into shipping tablets thus far, but any wins could help stabilize the company's business.

Jun 8, 2014 at 2:10PM

At Computex 2014, Advanced Micro Devices (NASDAQ:AMD) launched a mobile APU platform known as Kaveri for notebooks. Some will argue that this move significantly improves the company's competitive position; others, including yours truly, believe it won't fundamentally change Advanced Micro Devices' competitive position in the upper tiers of the notebook market. While the ultimate impact of that new product is still up in the air, the company's latest tablet and convertible product -- known as Mullins -- remains the one to watch.

What's the deal with Mullins?
Mullins is a low-power chip targeted toward convertible and tablet products, particularly those running Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows 8.1. The company demonstrated the part in a reference design known as the "Discovery Tablet," and reviewers who had some hands-on time with the design came away impressed with the performance of the device. In benchmark scores, it compared favorably to Intel's (NASDAQ:INTC) Bay Trail-T, which powers most Windows tablets available today.

However, there two concerns took a bit of the shine off of the otherwise impressive results. The first is simply that while the performance looks good, the device that the chip was in was fairly large and bulky -- much larger than what most people expect from a tablet. The next is that not a single hardware partner has announced design wins for Mullins, even though AMD and its partners could have done so at AMD's recent APU14 conference and again at Computex (for a more detailed take on the design win situation, see Sam Reynolds' excellent write-up over at VR-Zone).

Why does this even matter?
One could argue that AMD doesn't really need a presence in tablets -- after all, it's a crowded, cutthroat market. But if you consider the fact that the tablet market is growing rapidly while the traditional PC market is down, AMD probably needs some sort of meaningful presence in the tablet space. Furthermore, if convertible Windows tablet/PC-type devices can gain significant traction (winning back consumer wallet share from traditional tablets), the company would be well positioned if it had a competitive product since only AMD and Intel can provide solutions compatible with full Windows 8.1.

While Windows isn't guaranteed to succeed in grabbing back share from Android or iOS, Microsoft's aggressive action in making Windows 8.1 free for devices with screen sizes below 9 inches at least opens the door. Intel is being assertive here, going so far as to provide cost-reduced parts for $100 Windows tablets. Still, with a competitive product (on both performance and cost), AMD could grab some nontrivial volume here too and help stabilize its computing solutions group. This is why the company's Mullins is important and why I'm keenly watching for potential design wins here.

Foolish bottom line
There is no question that Mullins is much more competitive than the prior-generation Hondo and Temash chips that AMD tried to push into the Windows tablet market. That said, the competitiveness of the platform in more power constrained and smaller form factors, as well as the cost of the surrounding bill of materials, remains to be seen. While the platform has yet to appear in any announced designs, keep an eye out for design wins during the year.

Leaked: Apple's next smart device (warning, it may shock you)
Apple recently recruited a secret-development "dream team" to guarantee its newest smart device was kept hidden from the public for as long as possible. But the secret is out, and some early viewers are claiming its everyday impact could trump the iPod, iPhone, and the iPad. In fact, ABI Research predicts 485 million of this type of device will be sold per year. But one small company makes Apple's gadget possible. And its stock price has nearly unlimited room to run for early in-the-know investors. To be one of them, and see Apple's newest smart gizmo, just click here!

Ashraf Eassa owns shares of Intel. The Motley Fool recommends Intel. The Motley Fool owns shares of Intel and Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Money to your ears - A great FREE investing resource for you

The best way to get your regular dose of market and money insights is our suite of free podcasts ... what we like to think of as “binge-worthy finance.”

Feb 1, 2016 at 5:03PM

Whether we're in the midst of earnings season or riding out the market's lulls, you want to know the best strategies for your money.

And you'll want to go beyond the hype of screaming TV personalities, fear-mongering ads, and "analysis" from people who might have your email address ... but no track record of success.

In short, you want a voice of reason you can count on.

A 2015 Business Insider article titled, "11 websites to bookmark if you want to get rich," rated The Motley Fool as the #1 place online to get smarter about investing.

And one of the easiest, most enjoyable, most valuable ways to get your regular dose of market and money insights is our suite of free podcasts ... what we like to think of as "binge-worthy finance."

Whether you make it part of your daily commute or you save up and listen to a handful of episodes for your 50-mile bike rides or long soaks in a bubble bath (or both!), the podcasts make sense of your money.

And unlike so many who want to make the subjects of personal finance and investing complicated and scary, our podcasts are clear, insightful, and (yes, it's true) fun.

Our free suite of podcasts

Motley Fool Money features a team of our analysts discussing the week's top business and investing stories, interviews, and an inside look at the stocks on our radar. The show is also heard weekly on dozens of radio stations across the country.

The hosts of Motley Fool Answers challenge the conventional wisdom on life's biggest financial issues to reveal what you really need to know to make smart money moves.

David Gardner, co-founder of The Motley Fool, is among the most respected and trusted sources on investing. And he's the host of Rule Breaker Investing, in which he shares his insights into today's most innovative and disruptive companies ... and how to profit from them.

Market Foolery is our daily look at stocks in the news, as well as the top business and investing stories.

And Industry Focus offers a deeper dive into a specific industry and the stories making headlines. Healthcare, technology, energy, consumer goods, and other industries take turns in the spotlight.

They're all informative, entertaining, and eminently listenable. Rule Breaker Investing and Answers are timeless, so it's worth going back to and listening from the very start; the other three are focused more on today's events, so listen to the most recent first.

All are available for free at

If you're looking for a friendly voice ... with great advice on how to make the most of your money ... from a business with a lengthy track record of success ... in clear, compelling language ... I encourage you to give a listen to our free podcasts.

Head to, give them a spin, and you can subscribe there (at iTunes, Stitcher, or our other partners) if you want to receive them regularly.

It's money to your ears.


Compare Brokers