AMD announces spate of new mobile processors

Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) tried to steal some of Intel's thunder Wednesday by announcing 12 new notebook processors, including five low-voltage chips designed for thin-and-light notebooks and higher wattage chips for larger notebooks.

AMD now offers three categories of processor for notebooks grouped under the Athlon XP-M brand. It labels them "desktop replacement," "standard," and the new "low voltage" type introduced Wednesday, with each designed for a different type of notebook, said Frank Varela, mobile brand manager for AMD.

AMD's announcement, made at the CeBIT trade show in Hannover, Germany, comes the same day that Intel announced its Centrino chip package for notebooks. Centrino combines a new Pentium M mobile processor with a chipset and Intel Pro Wireless chip for 802.11b wireless networks.

The five low-voltage chips carry the model numbers 1800+, 1700+, 1600+, 1500+, and 1400+. They make use of a Micro PGA (pin grid array) design that differs from AMD's traditional Socket A pin design, Varela said. Micro PGA occupies less space on the motherboard, allowing notebook vendors to build smaller systems, he said. The low-voltage chips dissipate 25 watts when operating at maximum power.

The low-voltage chips will be available worldwide in 30 to 60 days in systems from various notebook makers, Varela said. For example, Fujitsu Ltd. will offer a new Lifebook S2000 series notebook that uses the new chips, he said.

AMD's other new processors are designed for larger notebooks, which have garnered more attention among consumers than thin-and-light models.

The desktop replacement category gets four new processors that run at higher wattages than AMD's previous desktop replacement chips, Varela said. They come with the model numbers 2600+, 2400+, 2200+ and 2000+ and are based on AMD's Thoroughbred core, he said. The chips dissipate 75 watts at maximum power, while AMD's previous desktop replacement chips dissipated only 45 watts of power at the maximum rating.

In the standard category for slightly smaller notebooks, the new Athlon XP-M 2500+, 2400+ and 2200+ use the Barton core, which was introduced earlier this year. Barton doubled the amount of on-chip cache available for storing frequently accessed instructions. The 2500+ and 2400+ use 45 watts when running at maximum power, while the 2200+ is rated for 35 watts.

AMD's previous desktop-replacement chip with the 2000+ model number has now become a standard-category processor, keeping its 2000+ rating. The company discontinued its older 2200+ desktop replacement processor in favor of the newer 2200+ desktop replacement processor with a higher wattage.

Many of AMD's partners are looking to build desktop replacement systems, Varela said. This mirrors the preference of consumers over the last six months, who have demonstrated they are willing to sacrifice mobility and battery life for notebooks that offer stronger performance and are still portable enough to cart around the home.

By raising the amount of power the desktop replacement notebooks can handle, AMD wants to further differentiate between "luggable" notebooks and notebooks that aren't huge, but aren't thin-and-light either, according to an AMD spokeswoman.

Fujitsu Siemens Computers (Holding) BV will introduce new Amilo A notebooks based on the Athlon XP-M 2400+ processor, and Epson Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co. will also build standard-sized notebooks with AMD processors in the first half of 2003, AMD said.

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