AMD to Launch Cheap PC

AMD is preparing to launch a low-cost PC next week
it hopes will encourage more people around the globe to surf the
Internet.

The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based semiconductor maker said it will debut
its Personal Internet Communicator (PIC) on Oct. 28 at events in
India and Latin America. The computer is about the size of a tissue box
and runs on a 366 MHz AMD Geode GX 500 processor that uses 1 watt of
power.

The device also comes with 128MB of RAM, a 3 1/2 internal disk
drive with 10GB capacity, four USB ports, a monitor and a keyboard. AMD
said its PIC operates using Microsoft’s Windows CE kernel with XP
extender so that users can access XP-based applications.

Initially, the PIC will only be available through Internet service
providers (ISP) and only in India, Mexico, China, Russia and Brazil for
a suggested price of $249 with the 15″ VGA monitor and $185
without. The ISPs would also be responsible for service and
support. AMD said the offer could eventually be extended to North
American and European markets.

Steve Howard, a public relations representative with AMD’s Personal Connectivity
Solutions Group, said the PIC is key to AMD’s “50×15” initiative, which
began last December.

“This is our promise to empower 50 percent of the world’s population
with basic Internet access by the year 2015,” Howard said adding
that the proposal was implemented after AMD estimated some 200 million
homes that could purchase a PC have yet to do so.

Howard said that AMD has chosen Solectron to
manufacturer the PIC devices and has no intention of going into the PC
manufacturing business on its own. Eventually, other third-party OEMs
will make the inexpensive PCs as AMD’s business model for its “50×15”
plan calls for manufacturing to take place in the countries where they
are sold.

“The idea of low-cost PCs for emerging markets has long been a dream
that is only recently technically feasible,” Michael Gartenberg, senior
analyst with JupiterResearch said. “This type of system can allow users in
these markets to participate in the benefits of the digital age with
standard software tools from Microsoft.” (JupiterResearch is owned by the same
parent company of internetnews.com.)

The NIC device also has the distinction of being a totally enclosed
device that requires no fan to cool the processor. Howard said that
design feature was included to allow the computer to run in countries
that need a more rugged design.

AMD’s “50×15” plan is also a clear shot across the bow of the Intel
juggernaut. The two companies have seen a definite
rise in PC sales in the last six months.

Quarterly analyses of the PC market released this week by research
firms IDC and Gartner show positive growth,
especially in non-U.S. markets.

Gartner determined that worldwide PC shipments in the third quarter
of 2004 increased 9.7 percent from the same period last year. IDC pegged
worldwide growth at 12 percent, thanks to demand by businesses and
strong growth in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA).

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