AMD Mobilizes Against Centrino

AMD took the wraps off a batch of new mobile
processors it hopes will steal market share away from Intel’s Centrino empire.

The company’s new Mobile AMD Sempron processor 3000+ is designed for
thin and light notebooks and builds on the entry-level family that AMD
introduced back in August 2004. The processor includes an 802.11a, b and
g chipset to help make it compatible with the most common wireless LANs . The new Sempron is also priced competitively at $134 in 1,000-unit quantities.

The two chipmaking companies have been improving the designs of
their entry-level processors for PCs in the last few quarters by adding features, offering matching improved chipsets and cutting prices. Ramping up clock speeds is still a determining factor in the market pricing, but both Intel and AMD have opted to gauge success on what they call “total system performance” instead of fighting over Megahertz or Gigahertz.

Derived from AMD’s K8 (Athlon64) systems core, the new Sempron is a 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. AMD also adds in its Enhanced Virus Protection
(EVP), which prevents common buffer overflow problems when combined with
Microsoft Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2). The chips also take advantage
of an extended system battery life courtesy of AMD’s PowerNow! power
management technology.

Neither the Celeron D nor the Sempron is marketed as heavily
as Pentium and Athlon counterparts, but both enjoy a following, especially overseas and in the price-sensitive marketplace.

Already AMD has secured OEM contracts to make sure the chip is
available in time for the holiday shopping season. Packard Bell said it would carry the new Sempron 3000+ in its EasyNote E6 series complete
with Microsoft Windows Home Edition pre-installed. The units are
expected in France, Italy, Spain, Nordic countries and the UK later this
month.

Austria-based Gericom has included the new processor in its
Blockbuster Advance Excellent 7000 notebooks. Other notebook makers like
Acer, Epson Direct Corporation, Fujitsu Siemens Computers, and Sharp are
expected to ship their Mobile Sempron products early next year.

Intel currently commands about an 82 percent market share of wireless processors, according to IT research group IDC, thanks in part to its Centrino lineup. The company’s latest batch of Pentium M processors includes the 715 and 725 (formerly codenamed Dothan).

Intel recently struck at the heart of AMD’s near-exclusive partnership with Nvidia when it revealed a future third party chipset contract. AMD also seeks
help from Silicon Integrated Systems Corp. (SiS) and VIA for its CPU
support.

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