RealTime IT News

AMD's Turion to Rival Intel's Centrino

AMD is upping the ante in its fight against Intel's mobile Centrino brand.

The chipmaker announced a new 64-bit processor family named Turion, which it says will eventually replace its current AMD Athlon Mobile lineup in the low-power space. Processor speed information and pricing were not disclosed.

The company said the first batch of Turion chips should appear in the first part of 2005. OEMs are expected to debut the processors in thin-and-light notebooks and will eventually show up in desktop replacement PCs. AMD said it would also continue to support its mobile Sempron products for value-priced mobile computers.

"Turion could really go up against Pentium M and Centrino," Bahr Mahony, a division marketing manager with AMD's mobile processor group, told internetnews.com. "When we sent out questionnaires to our customers and partners, people indicated that we need a specific mobility brand ... a technology transition based on the AMD64 architecture. Many said this was a long time in coming."

AMD said Turion also supports the company's "PowerNow" battery-saving regulator technology. Mahony said the company would continue to offer its 62-watt processors under its Athlon brand and support AMD's silicon-based Virus Protection in conjunction with Windows XP Service Pack 2.

Mahony also said Turion's other selling point is that AMD does not require vendors to be locked into a specific chipset. The company works with ATI for its graphical interfaces and Broadcom and Atheros for wireless LAN support. While the chipset features complementing Turion are up to the OEMs, Mahony said it was likely that PCs based on the chip would support 802.11a, b and g .

The mobile version of AMD's 64-bit processor family was developed at the same time as its current Opteron and Athlon64 products, Mahony said, but the company wanted to wait until the technology was just right.

While AMD's 64-bit processors have been gaining market share in the server room, critics note that the majority of desktop and consumer applications run in 32-bit mode.

"We are seeing a momentum with the 64-bit space," Mahony said. "A survey of people that bought AMD notebooks said the number one reason was that it was 64-bit. They recognized that AMD provided 32-bit compatible support, and it is a future-proof thing."

Future proofing is something Mahony said European OEMs jumped on immediately and that North American manufacturers are beginning to warm up to.

The name "Turion" has caused some to giggle. The dictionary definition means the fleshy bud of an aquatic plant that hibernates at the bottom of a pond and regenerates in spring.

AMD said it focused more on the "tour" syllable, which brings to mind an open road. This may be why six-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong is expected to officially unveil the Turion chip at an AMD event at the CES show in Las Vegas on Monday.

"Without a significant marketing campaign, I don't see how this new brand name will help," Kevin Krewell, a principal analyst for In-Stat/MDR told internetnews.com. "The new lower-power products will help AMD break into a wider assortment of thin and light notebooks, but the name itself is just another name."