It Must Be WinHec Time

SEATTLE, WA — AMD unveiled the latest chips for its Athlon 64-bit processor line for desktops on Tuesday: the Athlon 64 FX-62, X2 5000+ and 64 X2 4000+.

An AMD spokesman said the timing of the announcement by press release on the eve of Microsoft’s influential WinHec (Windows Hardware Engineering Conference) was “coincidental.”

In a tweak to its larger competitor, Intel, AMD trumpeted the new processors’ immediate availability.

Intel announced its next generation “Conroe” desktop processor last month, but it’s not expected to be available till later this summer.

Conroe dual-core processors will power the first line of Intel’s new vPro business brand, which includes several virtualization and security technologies designed for corporate customers.

AMD also said it’s transitioning its entire line of Athlon 64 processors to a new Socket AM2 which is designed to better enable virtualization and the DDR2 memory also recently adopted by AMD.

The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based chip company said it’s latest releases would be of particular interest to “prosumers and digital enthusiasts who are looking to run sophisticated, multiple processor-intense applications simultaneously.”

Lenovo, HP, Alienware (recently purchased by Dell), and Fujitsu Siemens all announced plans to support the new AMD processors.

The Athlon 64-FX-62 is the high-end, high performance leader of the new chips, priced at $1,031 each in quantity. The X2 5000+ is $696 and the X2 4000+ is $328.

While the WinHec spotlight will be on Microsoft, the exhibit hall features leading hardware vendors and big booths by competitors AMD and Intel.

Yesterday, Microsoft announced a pay-as-you-go purchasing model designed to make PCs more affordable in emerging markets.

AMD, Intel and Transmeta said they all are involved in supporting Microsoft’s FlexGo technology behind the initiative.

Microsoft co-founder and chairman Bill Gates will officially kick off WinHec Tuesday with a keynote address. Over 3,500 attendees are expected at the sold-out conference.

His address, and many other Microsoft presentations, are expected to focus on the forthcoming Vista operating system due out late this year for enterprise customers and more broadly for consumers early in 2007.

Michael Burk, public relations manager for Vista, ticked off three key advances in the Vista OS he said make it worth upgrading to: advanced security, the next level of networking to people and places with new communications options, and new entertainment capabilities.

“We’ve completed re-architected the security in Vista with features that make it harder for outside threats. We feel Vista’s security features are leaps and bounds over any other OS.”

Burk also noted Vista is “the first OS to scale to the hardware.” Vista will evaluate the PC its is loaded on and will only run features the hardware will support, such as Vista’s flashy “Aero” interface.

Richard Doherty, director of the Envisioneering Group consultancy, said the scaling is a mixed blessing.”

You’re likely to a see terracing of the PC market,” Doherty told “Consumers will have to decide if they want the PC equivalent of a Chevette, a Cavalier, a station wagon or a Corvette.”

Doherty said the different versions of Vista, such as “Vista Capable” and “Premium” enable a lower end of market some PC makers probably didn’t want since they’d rather see consumers pushed more to buy new, higher-end systems.

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