The new chips are aimed at laptop makers pushing out low-voltage, high-performance models

InformationWeek Staff, Contributor

March 13, 2003

3 Min Read

Intel isn't the only chip manufacturer making waves.

Intel competitor Advanced Micro Devices Inc. on Wednesday unveiled 12 new processors for the mobile market, targeting laptop makers pushing out new models in the thin-and-light and high-performance areas.

The new processors, announced at CeBIT 2003 in Hannover, Germany, all are based on AMD's Athlon XP 32-bit microprocessor and carry the new "M" moniker to denote "mobile." They include five chips the company says are suitable for low-voltage laptops, typically the most mobile portables that have trimmed ounces and inches and so have less room for bulkier batteries. Another seven target full-sized notebooks where performance is more important than portability.

Unlike Intel's Centrino technology, which locks laptop makers into a Wi-Fi (802.11b) wireless connection, AMD is touting the more open environment its chipsets offer. Laptop makers are able to equip their systems with whatever wireless solution they want, and easily integrate it with the AMD processors' architecture.

"Notebook PC manufacturers can select from a wide array of mobile AMD processors and combine them with a variety of best-in-class wireless and chipset solutions," said Rob Herb, executive VP and chief sales and marketing officer for AMD from CeBIT.

The Athlon XP-M 1800+, 1700+, 1600+, 1500+, and 1400+ processors are the first that the company's manufactured for the competitive light laptop market. Depending on the speed grade, the chips are priced from $71 to $147 in 1,000-unit quantities.

While AMD doesn't have the backing of names like Dell and IBM-- companies that announced laptops incorporating the new Intel Centrino technology and chipsets--it does have industry support for its mobile line. Fujitsu on Wednesday rolled out the LifeBook S2000, an ultra-light notebook that uses the XP-M 1700+ processor.

Available immediately in three configurations--with prices from $1,199 to $1,439--the S2000 sports a 13.3-inch display 256- to 512 Mbytes of memory, and a 30- or 40-Gbyte hard drive. The S2000 can be equipped with 802.11b access for another $70.

"The addition of the AMD processor enables us to offer a high-performance, aggressively priced system," said a Fujitsu spokesperson.

Sharp, another Japanese laptop maker, plans to stick low-voltage Athlon XP-M processors in its Mebius Muramasa PC-MV1-VC1 notebook, which it will release by the end of March, and AVERATEC announced it would roll out models using the AMD processors in the United States, Europe, and Asia during the second quarter. Other vendors, including China's Tsing Hua Unisplendor, have committed to offering the AMD line in their laptops.

The Athlon XP-M 2000+, 2200+, 2400+, 2500+, and 2600+ processors is aimed at larger notebooks that require higher performance but need longer battery life. These chips are priced from $87 to $246 in lots of 1,000. With 640 Kbytes of on-chip cache, the near-the-top-of-the-line 2500+ outperforms competitive mobile PC processors by about 8% , AMD says.

The 2200+ and 2400+ are also available in desktop- and notebook-replacement form factors, rounding out the dozen chips AMD introduced.

Epson, Hewlett-Packard, and Fujitsu Siemens said they'll introduce notebooks with the higher-speed AMD processors during the first half of 2003.

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