AMD ships Mobile Athlon 4 chips

Attacking the growing market for mobile computers, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) on Monday rolled out new Mobile Athlon and Mobile Duron chips, along with an ironically-timed branding strategy for its premier processor, now calling it the Athlon 4.

Four Mobile Athlon 4 processors are now available at speeds of 850MHz, 900MHz, 950MHz, and 1GHz, according to Tim Write, the director of desktop marketing at Sunnyvale, Calif.-based AMD.

Two Mobile Duron processors are also available for cost-conscious consumers, running at clock speeds of 800MHz and 850MHz, said Write.

Compaq is expected to be one of the first manufacturers to offer laptops wrapped around the new mobile AMD chips, according to AMD officials.

AMD said it added the "4" suffix to its flagship Athlon brand not as an attempt to compete on a version-level basis with rival Intel's Pentium 4 chip, but as a logical step in the Athlon's development.

"It's the forth incarnation of the Athlon architecture," explained Write. "We had the K-7 core at (0.25-microns), the K-75 core rolled out at 0.18 technology, then we had the Thunderbird core at 0.18 with on-die cache, and now the Athlon 4."

All of the new mobile AMD chips utilize AMD's PowerNow technology which automatically adjusts the power level of the system depending on workload, extending battery life up to 30 percent, according to AMD.

The Mobile Athlon 4 and Mobile Duron chips also use technology AMD is calling "Data Pre-Fetch," which Write said is a "control mechanism that predicts what data the processor is likely to need based on the (operating system) code pattern."

Such prediction improves processor performance, Write said.

Initial retail pricing for thousand-unit quantities of the AMD Athlon 4 chip is US$240 for 850MHz, $270 for 900MHz, $350 for 950MHz, and $425 for 1GHz processors. Bulk-packaged Mobile Duron chips cost $170 for 800MHz and $195 for 850MHz, according to AMD.

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