Marketing Processors

By John G. Spooner  |  Posted 2005-05-04 Print this article Print

With the addition of the Athlon 64 X2, AMD will have four varieties of desktop PC processors, including the Sempron single-core value chip, the single-core Athlon 64, the Athlon 64 X2, and the single-core Athlon 64 FX for gaming PCs. But "were trying to be much more focused in our marketing and our positioning of where each processor is," Seckler said. "Until now weve had the FX, and the FX has been the top of the line. Now, with dual core, whats happening is you have very different responses to the applications that people are running." AMD will tout the Athlon 64 X2s multimedia aptitude—it will market X2 chips to businesses and consumers using applications such as video editing—and will position its current and future single-core Athlon 64 FX chips as having the highest performance on games.
"If your primary interest in a PC is games, choose an FX," Seckler said. "If its professional video editing, choose X2."
A single-core Athlon 64 4200+ still might see daylight. But AMD hasnt seen demand for it, Seckler said. An Intel spokesperson declined to comment on any plans it might have to update its crop of current, single-core Pentium 4 chips. But it has announced a plan to deliver another single-core Pentium, dubbed Cedar Mill, in 2006. Still, over time, almost all PC processors are likely to gain two or more cores, predicted Dean McCarron, principal analyst at Mercury Research. Right now, "there are some good fits and some not so good fits [for dual-core chips]. But that will change when the software guys become more aware" of dual cores, McCarron said. "Its a question of, whens the timing right? This year, single core in the premier gaming segment makes more sense than dual core." Overall, McCarron predicted that dual-core chips will smooth out multitasking on PCs, making them worthy of consideration by businesses as well as by consumers. Advertising "performance e-mail is laughable," he said. "But the idea that you can be having more background activity going on without bringing your computer to its knees hasnt been explored yet." To that end, aside from video editing for businesses, applications such as desktop search software could gain from dual-core processor PCs, McCarron said. AMD is shifting its chip lineup in other ways to make room for its dual-core chips. Earlier this week, it cut prices on several of its Athlon 64 and Sempron chips. It has also phased out its Athlon XP brand. Although the technology that underpinned the Athlon XP still lives on in some desktop Semprons, AMD stopped making Athlon XP chips during the first quarter. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, views and analysis on servers, switches and networking protocols for the enterprise and small businesses.

John G. Spooner John G. Spooner, a senior writer for eWeek, chronicles the PC industry, in addition to covering semiconductors and, on occasion, automotive technology. Prior to joining eWeek in 2005, Mr. Spooner spent more than four years as a staff writer for CNET, where he covered computer hardware. He has also worked as a staff writer for ZDNET News.

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