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5/16/2006
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Two Mobile Firsts For AMD: Dual-Core Turion, 64-bit Sempron

Advanced Micro Devices looks to beef up its position in the notebook market against competitor Intel with two firsts: dual core Turion and a 64-bit Sempron CPUs.

Advanced Micro Devices looks to beef up its position in the notebook market against competitor Intel with two firsts: dual core Turion and 64-bit Sempron CPUs.

The Sunnyvale, Calif., chip maker also is working on its first validated system program for systems builders with the launch of the new chips.

AMD's new offering helps position its products against Intel's Centrino line for notebooks, which has helped notebook sales soar over the past few years. In January, Intel launched the Core Duo CPUs for Centrino, dual-core notebook options that offer low power for mobile workers. That offering has been coupled with a validated whitebook program Intel launched in March to help spur sales of custom notebooks among systems builders.

With AMD's latest announcement, the dual-core Turion 64 X2 becomes the chip-maker's high-end offering in mobile while existing single-core Turion CPUs will be positioned for thin and light form factors and eventually phased out this year, an AMD spokesman said. Meanwhile, Sempron, previously available only in a 32-bit option for desktops, has been upgraded to 64-bit for mobile to offer a powerful value line, the spokesman said.

In comparison, Intel's current Core Duo processor is a 32-bit part. Merom, Intel's next-generation processor, will be a 64-bit part. That chip is now expected to ship in August after Intel announced at a recent analyst conference that the initial fourth quarter launch date had been moved up.

Matt Mazzantini, AMD's division marketing manager, mobile, said AMD has added a number of new features to the processors as well.

They will plug into a new S1 socket that is 23 percent smaller than the current option enabling smaller and lighter form factors, he said. The new chips also use DDR2 memory, which can run at faster speeds than the previously-used DDR1.

Another feature is the Digital Media Xpress, a new engine that speeds up processing of floating point operations in multimedia applications, such as music and video playback, Mazzantini said.

"Net, net of this is you get an engine that drives digital media applications and 2D and 3D graphics rendering," he said.

The processors also have dedicated power management in each core and thermal management to deal with heat issues, he said.

Mazzantini said AMD has begun working with ODM MSI to develop a validated whitebook for distributors and small OEMs. The chip maker is in negotiations to include "a couple of other ODMs" in the program, he said.

The validated platform will provide a fully configured whitebook that Mazzantini said will have undergone a "handful" of tests from AMD, including electrical, bus margin, stress and thermal testing to ensure quality.

AMD recently beefed up its validated server program and Nvidia has launched a validated desktop program that has Piqued the interest of some system builders.

AMD is also offering reference designs to make it easier for ODMs and OEMs to bring AMD-based notebooks to market, as previously reported by CRN. Mazzantini said those designs will use graphics from ATI and Nvidia and wireless from Airgo, Atheros and Broadcom.

AMD's new processors are shipping in volume now, according to Mazzantini, and should be available in notebooks in June.

Pricing for the Sempron models are $101 to $142, in low quantities. The Turion X2 models, which range from 1.6GHz to 2GHz, are priced from $184 to $354.

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