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 “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 “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.”

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