AMD On Track To Ship 32-Nm Chips In 2010 - InformationWeek

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Infrastructure // PC & Servers

AMD On Track To Ship 32-Nm Chips In 2010

CEO Dirk Meyer says ramp up with begin in the middle of next year.

While some graphics production may shift to the Foundry Co., AMD plans to stick with TSMC for key manufacturing processes. "We'll do that [shift production] to some degree over time, but we still intend to maintain a good relationship with TSMC," Meyer said. "Fabless businesses routinely maintain more than one supplier, and the reason for that is you always want competition in your supplier base. This isn't new for our graphics business."

As a fabless company, AMD isn't planning to change its current product strategy. Similar to the shift to 32-nm chips, AMD isn't in a race with Intel on all technologies. Instead, the smaller chipmaker focuses its research and development on server and notebook products, Meyer said. Technology developed for servers are adapted for high-end desktops, such as gaming systems, and notebook products are adapted for low-end and mainstream desktops.

One emerging category of low-end notebooks AMD will stay out of, at least for a couple of years, is netbooks, typically defined as having screen sizes of less than 10 inches. With prices of the systems as low as $300, the profit margin isn't sufficient today to attract AMD, Meyer said.

The same holds true for making chips for smartphones, such as the Apple iPhone. AMD in January sold its handset chip division to Qualcomm for $65 million. "The reason we did that is because chip suppliers focused on that space are large in number, they're all big, and none of them are making money," Meyer said.

In battling Intel, Meyer believes AMD's sweet spot will be in offering a combination of CPU and ATI graphics chips for ultraportable PCs, the 13-inch Apple MacBook Air being a good example, as well as for larger notebooks and desktops. In the ultraportable category, defined as light and thin laptops generally under 15 inches but with full-size keyboards, AMD this year introduced the Yukon platform, comprised of an Athlon Neo processor, ATI Radeon X1250 integrated graphics, and an optional ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3410 discrete graphics cards.

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