Is AMD Eying Professional Tablets?

Bit by bit, more information keeps coming that hints at where AMD (NYSE:AMD) might be going with its technology as it diversifies from PCs to other areas. An unusual use for one of AMD’s processors might prove a big, big hint in a small, small body.

In the past, AMD drew up to 80 percent of its revenue from PC sales. AMD’s processors and graphics cards have been popular in a broad array of different PC brands, including laptop and desktop PCs, but the company’s new chief executive, Rory Read, wants to change this.

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Read joined the company in 2011, and in the fourth quarter last year he saw PC sales drop 4.9 percent year-on-year. The decline in PC sales is a signal to consider other opportunities for AMD to use its chips, and Read said he wants to reduce AMD’s dependence on PC sales to only 50 percent of its revenue.

A number of new officials were also brought into AMD recently, bringing with them expertise in low-power and embedded chip design, iOS device processors, and mobile processor design. Two men came from Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and one from Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM).

The new staff alone was grounds to speculate that AMD was setting its sight on the mobile market, with smartphones and tablets likely being the focus. AMD added to the certainty of this by announcing plans to ship a new low-power processor for Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows 8 tablets and hybrid laptops this year…

The next hint came inside of a prototype Fujitsu tablet that held inside an AMD accelerated processing unit — the AMD FirePro. This sort of chip is often found in professional computers used for design and content creation. While the chip may not be an official model yet, if AMD went through the trouble of getting one of its design-oriented processors running on a tablet, the company could be seriously considering designing for the professional tablet market. If it does, it will have an advantage over Nvidia (NASDAQ:NVDA) or Qualcomm’s ARM-based processors, which are more limited in which operating systems they can run, because the AMD processor could run Windows 8 Pro and desktop apps.

While most of the current tablets out there might not scream “professional,” and may be considered more casual media-consuming devices, that does not mean there is no market for such a niche. The prototype Fujitsu tablet and a super high-resolution tablet from Panasonic (NYSE:PC) might be the clue that there is a market for professional tablets and a home for AMD’s processors.

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