RealTime IT News

AMD Powers Down 64-bit for Notebooks

Hoping to keep its momentum up for the summer buying season, AMD Thursday took the wraps off two new low-power processors from its 64-bit Athlon family.

The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based semiconductor maker said it is currently shipping its AMD Athlon 64 processor models 2800+ and 2700+ to vendors. The chips are priced at $241 and $209, respectively in 1,000-unit quantities.

While AMD's Athlon 64 technology is making its way into desktop and desktop replacement notebooks, the two new chips are the first that AMD designed for thin and light models.

The chips also include an Enhanced Virus Protection security feature, co-developed with Microsoft , which will be activated when the Redmond, Wash-based software vendor releases it XP Service Pack 2.

Among AMD's PC partners, Acer said it would support the new Athlon 64 chips in an upcoming Ferrari brand notebook. Likewise, Chinese manufacturer Amoi Electronics said it would use the Athlon chips in a new wide screen display series of notebooks in the second half of this year.

AMD's Athlon 64 and its Opteron counterpart boast 64-bit computing with backwards compatibility and address paths that break through current 32-bit CPUs' 4GB memory addressing cap with 40-bit physical (up to 1 terabyte) and 48-bit virtual (up to 256 terabytes) memory addressing space. The Athlon 64 also supports single HyperTransport link for 6.4GB/sec of data transfer.

The release comes at a critical time, as AMD is finding some traction in the marketplace. A survey this week showed that AMD outsold Intel in North American retail desktop sales.

"While I consider AMD's new MPUs to be better than any microprocessors the company has produced in the past, in my view these new parts are still not good enough to challenge Intel's dominance in the microprocessor business," Melanie Hollands, president of Koala Capital, a hedge fund that focuses on technology stocks, told internetnews.com.

Hollands continued: "In the past, AMD has never been able to make any great strides in penetrating the server processor market, and my sense is while its 64-bit chips may be technically better than past efforts, I don't see Opteron or Athlon 64 being able to engender enough OEMs to switch that it threatens Intel's dominance. That said - I do believe that AMD can carve out a strong niche and take some share from Intel."

Meantime, Intel is scheduled to release its next generation Pentium M core, code named "Dothan." The chip will eventually find its way into Centrino notebooks and other wireless platforms.