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AMD Dives Into Device Chip Market

Chipmaker AMD , trying to blunt Intel Corp.'s growing strength in the field of microprocessors for Net devices, announced Monday that it is diving headlong into that arena.

The company unveiled its Alchemy Au1100 processor, which currently is being sampled, touting it as a high-performance chip for devices that is easy to integrate into devices and has low power requirements. AMD has received most of its attention for its desktop chips that compete with Pentium-series chips from Intel.

AMD said its new processor for handhelds and other mobile devices will run at 400 MHz and use half the power of the current Au1000 processor. It has a built-in LCD controller and two controllers for Secure Digital (SD) expansion devices. It also has a built-in Ethernet interface. The company said the new microprocessor is based on the MIPS32 instruction set.

Its speed is the same as Intel's newly announced PXA250 microprocessor. it will support devices based on Windows CE.NET, Linux and VxWorks. Notably it does not support devices based on the Palm OS.

Intel's recently-introduced PXA250, and its less powerful sibling, the PXA210, have received the support from a variety of device and platform vendors. Perhaps most notably, Intel's previous generation of device chips were widely used by handhelds based on Microsoft's Pocket PC platform and this newest generation also can be used by Palm OS-based devices.

AMD said that it expects microprocessors for Net devices to become key to its future.

"This market is in its infancy, but we believe it is our highest growth segment," said Billy Edwards, vice president and general manager for AMD's Personal Connectivity Solutions group. We're excited to be here at the start to foster competition and offer outstanding solutions for our customers. We are positioning ourselves to be a major player."

The processor was developed by Alchemy Semiconductor, which AMD acquired in February. That company's previous generation processor was the Au1000 and, besides the Au1100, it has been developing the Au1500.

The company said the Au1100 processor is priced at $29.50 in 10,000 unit quantities. By contrast, Intel's announced price for the 400Mhz PXA250 is $39.20 while the 200MHz PXA210 costs $19 each in 10,000 unit quantities.

David Haskin is managing editor of sister site < href="http://www.allnetdevices.com">allNetDevices.