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AMD Marches on Sempron

AMD took the wraps off its new entry-level semiconductor family that it hopes will compete more aggressively with Intel's Celeron processors.

The new brand -- AMD Sempron and Mobile AMD Sempron respectively-- is designed for both desktop and mobile PCs that handle basic e-mail, Web browsing and word processing, downloading music, photo editing, movie viewing, and Web conferencing. Loosely named after the Latin word semper, always -- supposed to suggest "daily use, practical, and part of everyday life," according to AMD documentation.

Derived from AMD's K8 (Athlon64) systems core, the new 0.13-micron-process chip has less cache than its Athlon64 cousins. The CPUs also combine 64K apiece of Level 1 data and instruction cache with 256K of Level 2 cache. The top-of-the-line Sempron 3100+ (1.8GHz) uses the Socket 754 package of the previous-generation Athlon 64 (now using Socket 939).

The Mobile AMD Sempron processors 2600+, 2800+, and 3000+ are designed for full-size notebooks and sell for $84, $108, and $120, respectively. The Mobile AMD Sempron processors 2600+ and 2800+ designed for thin and light notebooks are $107 and $134, respectively.

The AMD Sempron processors 2200+, 2300+, 2400+, 2500+, 2600+, 2800+ and 3100+ are selling at prices ranging between $39 and $126.

"Today, AMD charts a new course for the industry by changing the definition of everyday computing to reflect what businesses and consumers really want to do with their PCs," Marty Seyer, corporate vice president and general manager, Microprocessor Business Unit, Computation Products Group, said in a statement.

Sempron essentially replaces AMD's previous discount Duron family and trades it in for what AMD calls "mature markets." The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company recently told internetnews.com it is still producing Duron cores to satisfy market needs in emerging countries like China and Latin America.

The chip also compliments AMD's Athlon64 family even though the Sempron line lacks 64-bit compatibility and will not be able to take advantage of AMD's Enhanced Virus Protection. The hardware/software buffer overflow protection technology works in conjunction with the upcoming Windows XP Service Pack 2.

Partners have already lined up to get their shipment orders in. HP was the first major OEM in line and said it will introduce a new Sempron-powered HP Pavilion or similarly configured Compaq Presario PCs later this year.

Other second-tier OEMs like Acer, Medion, Twinhead, Asus, and their related system builders said they would also stump for AMD's new chip family. A Sempron-based notebook and desktop systems from these companies is expected in the second half of this year.

AMD said seven Sempron processors (3100+, 2800+, 2600+, 2500+, 2400+, 2300+ and 2200+) are ready now. Mobile AMD Sempron processors 2600+, 2800+, and 3000+ are designed for full-size notebooks and Mobile AMD Sempron processors 2600+ and 2800+ designed for thin and light notebooks will be available in August 2004.

Editor's note: Hardware Central editor Eric Grevstad contributed to this report.



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