This week during Mobile World Congress 2014, AMD announced that some AMD-based machines from select retail stores will have the BlueStacks software offered as an added option. This version will be optimized for AMD APUs and Windows 8.1, and be based on the full version of Android 4.3 "Jelly Bean."
This is actually BlueStacks' third product, following the BlueStacks GamePop "console," and the BlueStacks App Player, the latter of which can be downloaded for free from the BlueStacks website. The "Player" version doesn't provide the full Android experience, but lets users play a few games and run a number of apps. This version is also based on the "Ice Cream Sandwich" build, and doesn't provide optimizations for AMD hardware or compatibility with Windows 8.1.
This third new "Premium" product announced this week is a full-blown version of Android on a Windows desktop. This approach enables PCs to run both Windows and Android applications at the same time, and enables users to share files between Windows and Android. OEMs won't need to run separate driver tests and support processes for the two operating systems.
"Not only can you run the latest apps, but through the familiar Android UI you can customize your settings, background, preferences, and alerts," writes AMD's Clarice Simmons. "Virtually everything you do on your Android device can now be done on your PC. You also get full support for the peripherals that are typically leveraged in mobile apps. That means you can take advantage of camera, GPS, accelerometer, and other components in your PC device, just as you would their equivalents in an Android phone or tablet."
Basically, this new offering brings the full Android UI and apps experience to Windows PC, she adds. Simmons goes on to highlight the AMD-specific optimizations of the new BlueStacks Premium product, revealing that the software leverages AMD's Unified Video Decode (UVD) silicon, a fixed-function logic block designed to improve performance when playing videos.
The premium BlueStacks product will also have many low-level microarchitecture-specific performance optimizations designed to leverage APUs. These include zero-copy optimizations for shared memory, floating point unit code tuning, optimizations for faster context switching and more. The new premium product will also have support for AMD Virtualization (AMD-V) technology.
"The premium product has a multi-OS runtime at its heart, with innovative BlueStacks virtualization technology that leverages AMD's specific hardware extensions designed to perform repetitive tasks normally performed by the CPU and therefore improve resource use and virtual machine (VM) performance," she writes. "This boils down to enabling minimal overhead for a great user performance experience, even on small, low power APUs."
This new BlueStacks solution will first be made available with several key retail partners across EMEA later this year, including Elkjop Group. A North American release is unknown at this point, so stay tuned.