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

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.

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