AMD passing on phones, focusing on tablets and hybrids

Chip maker says at CES it will put its weight behind devices that can show off the 'beautiful graphics that we bring'

The PC market may be taking a beating but chip maker Advanced Micro Devices is has no plans to move toward the hot new market: smartphones.

Mark Papermaster, chief technology officer at AMD, made it clear in an interview with Computerworld on Tuesday that his company has no interest in the smartphone market. Instead, AMD, which has struggled in the past few years, is going to focus on tablets, lightweight laptops and hybrids of the two.

"We're not going after the handheld space," said Papermaster, who is attending the annual International CES show in Las Vegas this week. "It's a crowded market right now. We're focusing on differentiating on the beautiful graphics that we bring. When you have a 3-in. screen, you don't have the screen density to realize that difference."

What's large in AMD's view is the hybrid computer model. Part tablet and part laptop, this is the machine that the chip maker wants to put a lot of its weight behind.

"When you look at the PC market, my thinking is that we're seeing convergence across devices," said Papermaster. "The PC market is changing. We're taking our tech beyond the PC and into hybrid devices or very very thin notebooks... I look at some of the new devices coming out and they really bring the best of both worlds."

While AMD's CTO says they're putting a lot of their effort behind tablets, the company doesn't have much of a presence there yet.

At CES this week, the company took the wraps off a tablet chip code-named Temash. AMD execs even showed off a Windows 8 tablet that was running the upcoming chip.

The chip maker is hoping Temash will help them gain a footing in the competitive tablet market and gain some traction against rivals and tablet chip leaders Intel and ARM.

In Computerworld's interview with Papermaster, he declined to speculate on what he hopes the company's tablet growth might look like in a year or two. He would only not that it's a "real focus" for AMD.

He did say, though, that AMD hopes to follow a similar pattern in tablet as it has with PCs -- putting chips on the market at a lower price than competitors such as Intel.

"There's a pretty set price range that you have to hit and we're vey comfortable with our ability to do that," he said. "Over time, absolutely, we'll give a competitive price."

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Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, on Google+ or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed. Her email address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

See more by Sharon Gaudin on Computerworld.com.

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