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AMD and BlueStacks: Making the Most of Android Apps on Windows

Chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) is collaborating with BlueStacks to optimize the latter company's App Player for Windows for tablet and notebook PCs based on AMD's Accelerated Processing Unit (APU).

The Campbell, Calif.-based startup's App Player makes it possible to run Android phone apps on Windows machines. Essentially, it's an emulated Android mode for Windows that provides exclusive access to one application at a time. The pitch for developers is, not surprisingly, that the solution expands their consumer user based dramatically. But the BlueStacks' technology can also be integrated into offerings for enterprise market segments, the company says.

"It's not just about playing games on a big screen," said Manju Hegde, corporate vice president, AMD Fusion Experience Program. "We found that, even with the relative inefficiencies of an application running on Android that is virtualized for Windows, still there was in several applications a 20 to 30 percent improvement in performance," Hegde said. "There's still plenty of headroom, which opens things up considerably."

AMD's Fusion APUs, which were unveiled in January, combine a multicore CPU, a DirectX 11 video and parallel processing engine, a dedicated Universal Video Decoder 3 (UVD3) HD video acceleration block, and a high-speed bus for carrying data among the APU's cores. The APUs come with the company's VISION Engine Software, which AMD boasts is constantly updated to improve system performance and stability.

"Partly because of the success of the iPhone and iPad," Hegde said, "a lot of the small, independent developers are going after the low-power applications. And there's this belief that all the sexiness in the developer community is going there. But I don't believe that's true. There are a number of new apps that have come out on Android that lend themselves really well to x86. BlueStacks virtualizes these apps over Windows, so they're immediately available on a PC."

AMD is actually investing in BlueStacks through its Fusion Fund program, which makes strategic investments in companies that are developing "unique, digital consumer and professional experiences that harness the horsepower of AMD Fusion APU products."

AMD's investment in BlueStacks will help the young company "create an environment where your favorite apps can be accessed regardless of platform technology, providing greater entertainment and productivity value," said Rosen Sharma, BlueStacks' president and CEO in a statement.

This announcement is another example of AMD's ongoing interest in supporting software developers. In June, the chipmaker sponsored a developer conference (The Fusion Developer Summit), which provided three days of keynotes, breakout sessions, and hands-on labs all designed to help developers to make the most of its evolving technology.

"When the PC market was young," Hegde told ADTmag at the time, "it was possible to sell based on technical merits and technology metrics -- basically, processor speed. But as the market matures, and as Apple has shown the world so forcefully, end users care about solutions based on what they want to do -- solutions and experiences -- not megahertz and gigahertz. All these experience that users really care about come from a strong ecosystem between us and developers..."

The alpha version of the BlueStacks App Player can be downloaded now from the company's Web site.

Posted by John K. Waters on 11/28/2011 at 10:53 AM


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