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Professional-grade tablets should push the innovation envelope

by Steve Belt

February 12 2013

Steve Belt is the General Manager and Corporate Vice President of AMD Ultra Low Power.


AMD’s Steve Belt says swappable batteries, full HD displays and external facing cameras are unmet requirements for professional users today.

The proliferation of tablets in the consumer market has been heavily reported, but the professional design and manufacturing space is equally interesting. As professionals in these markets are increasingly on the go, there has been a trend toward developing software solutions specifically for tablets and slate PCs.

Automotive, aerospace and architecture, as well as media and entertainment, typically need higher performance hardware certified with a specific software solution. Regardless of whether these enterprise users are on the production floor or travelling, these solutions enable enterprise users to make critical decisions and contribute in real-time.

To address these users, chipmakers and original equipment manufacturer (also called OEMs) have been teaming up with independent software vendors (also called ISVs) to enable high-performance tablet form-factors for a more robust mobile experience on their applications. I believe there is a need in professional-grade tablets for performance above mobile operating systems such as Android or Windows RT, and to support full x86-based operating systems such as Microsoft Windows.

The feedback from professional users questions the Windows RT experience for some of the more demanding mobility applications. Support for the full Windows operating system will also benefit ISVs with time-to-market, since the full applications are usually developed on x86 platforms.

Software certification in a mobile platform also assures workstation-class users of the best experience and dedicated support. End-users can then see the benefit of expanding their workflows onto increasingly mobile devices, without having to sacrifice performance or capabilities.

Software now pushing hardware design

One company asking for such support has been the Dassault Systemes 3DVIA Composer team. 3DVIA Composer is a software that aims to foster collaborative design and product deliverables, with quick time-to-market and reduced cost, using 3D computer aided design (CAD) software packages.

Current chip innovations give 3DVIA Composer the ability for broader use on tablets and slate PCs for collaboration from the production design stage, through manufacturing and in the boardroom or out in the field. OpenGL and DirectX optimizations will be instrumental to support these types of applications on a tablet or slate PC at an acceptable level of performance, because most of these applications are developed with full OpenGL support.

The physical design of professional-grade tablets will also facilitate change amongst the most power hungry mobile users. A truly ruggedized design is not seen on common, consumer oriented tablets sold today. Swappable batteries, full HD displays and external facing cameras, among other features, are unmet requirements for professional users today.  

CAD and modeling and animation, require full High Definition or HD support. The external facing camera is valuable for users in the field and for architecture, engineering and construction applications, giving the user the ability to take a picture of the actual structure and integrate the picture into an application in real-time.

The ability for today’s professionals in the design and manufacturing markets to be increasingly mobile without sacrificing productivity is critical for continued customer innovation.

Steve Belt is the General Manager and Corporate Vice President of AMD Ultra Low Power.

If you are a tablet industry professional and would like to contribute a vendor-agnostic analysis piece to our Opinions section, please contact Michael Singer, Business editor.

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