RealTime IT News

AMD Contracts for Tablets

AMD garnered its first-ever contract to supply chips for a Tablet PC maker, the company said Monday.

The contract with computer maker Averatec to power new convertible PCs highlights AMD's momentum in the enterprise and a continued quest to sap semiconductor market share from dominant rival Intel .

Averatec said its new C3500 Series is based on the Mobile AMD Athlon XP-M processor 2200+, a new low-thermal design processor making its debut in some systems this week. The 4.5-pound Tablet PC includes an integrated optical drive, extended battery life technology and a built-in DVD+CD-RW combination drive. The convertible notebook also includes a 12.1-inch XGA display that swivels around into clipboard-style handwriting- and speech-recognition mode.

Pricing starts at $1,350 before $50 mail-in rebate for a system with 512MB of DDR333 memory, 60GB hard disk, and 802.11g wireless networking. The systems are shipping in North America and Asia now with European availability to follow soon.

AMD also announced the availability of its Mobile AMD Athlon 64 processor 3400+. Designed for consumers and business users, the 3400+ can run 32-bit applications, includes AMD's Hyper Transport technology, is compatible with wireless 802.11a, b and g standards, and supports 3DNow multimedia enhancements.

Running at speeds of 2.2GHz, the 64-bit chip offers a security feature that will work with the upcoming Microsoft Windows XP Service Pack 2 to halt common buffer overflow attacks. The chip also includes 128K of Level 1 and 1MB of Level 2 cache and a thermal design power rating of 62 watts.

Already AMD has lined up OEM deals in hopes of selling the Mobile Athlon as part of the back-to-school buying season. Epson Direct launched its EDI Cube F series back in June 2004 for business professionals in Japan. Notebooks offered by Alienware will be ready this month in the North American market with European systems expected in August.

The Mobile AMD Athlon 64 3400+ joins AMD's other notebook-ready chips, including the 3200+, 3000+ and 2800+. In bulk, the 3400+ and the Mobile AMD Athlon XP-M processor 2200+ are priced at $432 and $97, respectively.

To make a dent in the market, however, AMD will have to convince Dell to sell computers based on its products. But Dell has repeatedly said it would only consider AMD chips for its computers if the market demanded it.

Dell retained its number 1 position in both the worldwide and U.S. PC markets in the second quarter of 2004, according to an analysis report released last week by Gartner. With Dell selling Intel-only units, the PC maker's worldwide slice of the 43 million worldwide pie totaled 7 million units sold worldwide; 4 million of that came from U.S. consumers. That is a 13.3 percent increase over the same period last year. Gartner's numbers include desktop, mobile and x86 32-bit servers.

Just as damaging to AMD is its European sales numbers. According to research firm Context's latest SalesWatch figures, European channel sell-through for the first five months of 2004 show a significant decline in sales of AMD-powered notebook PCs over the period, with AMD's share dropping to 10.7 percent of channel notebook PC sales in May this year compared to 16.7 percent in January.

Responsible for AMD's decline, according to Context, was an upsurge in sales of Intel Celeron-powered notebooks, which, by May, had taken 15 percent of channel notebook PC sales in Europe's top seven economies, up from 9.7 percent in January this year. AMD is currently preparing to counter Celeron sales with its own low-power, low-cost chips, dubbed Sempron.

All is not lost in AMD as Context's data did register a steady ramp in sales of AMD Athlon 64 notebook PCs. Although, the research firm found the first Mobile Athlon 64 numbers only started appearing on their charts in May.