Lenovo Thinks AMD for Business Desktops

By John G. Spooner  |  Posted 2006-07-27

Lenovo Thinks AMD for Business Desktops

For Lenovo Group customers, choosing a processor for a business desktop is about to become a two-horse race.

The PC maker in the second week of August will become the first top-tier manufacturer to offer an AMD processor-based desktop to large businesses in the United States, sources familiar with the companys plans said.

Lenovo has deliberately aimed the ThinkCentre A60 desktop at large businesses in the United States. Other top-tier manufacturers offer AMD processor PCs, but have yet to openly target larger businesses with AMD-processor PCs in the United States.

Lenovo is "making no bones about the fact that this [ThinkCentre] is going to be targeted toward enterprise and mid-market customers," a source familiar with the plan said.

To read more about Lenovos latest earnings, click here.

Given AMDs progress of late—the company has made strides in the corporate space largely thanks to its Opteron server chip—business customers have begun asking to, at a minimum, evaluate PCs with AMD chips inside, the source said.

"Now its a two-horse race" in PC processors, the source said.

The ThinkCentre A60—which represents a series of firsts for Lenovo, including being the first Think-brand product to offer an AMD chip and the first desktop to come out of the companys post-realignment Beijing, China, desktop team—will offer features that are tuned for big businesses.

The A60 will be available with AMDs Sempron and Athlon 64 X2 processors in both minitower and small desktop configurations and will offer features such as a chassis that can be serviced without tools.

It will also come with Lenovos ThinkVantage software tools—ThinkVantage tools work to enhancing security and provide data backup and recovery—which are designed to make Lenovo PCs easier to manage for large businesses. Pricing was not yet available, the source said.

For its part, AMD has made strides with businesses of late. The chip maker has been particularly successful in the server space, where its Opteron processor has grown to claim more than a quarter of server processor shipments since its 2003 launch.

Hewlett-Packard, IBM and Sun Microsystems all offer Opteron servers. Dell has said it would join the fray later this year.

Success has come more slowly for AMD in business desktops and notebooks. Before Lenovo began offering its Lenovo 3000 PC line, HP was the only top-tier PC maker to offer a business-oriented system with an AMD chip in the United States.

AMD has a plan, however. The chip maker expects that its plan to purchase ATI Technologies will help accelerate its growth in business PCs. AMD announced on July 24 that it intends to purchase the graphics chip maker in a transaction valued at $5.4 billion.

AMD CEO Hector Ruiz told analysts in a July 24 conference call that one of the most immediate results of the marriage of AMD and ATI will be the companys ability to respond to business customers requests to play a larger role in the way PCs using its chips are designed.

AMD also has a plan to combine its technology with ATIs to produce new types of chips that combine AMD processors and ATIs graphics cores.

Next Page: Sparking a change.

Sparking a Change

Whether or not the AMD-Lenovo relationship or the AMD-ATI purchase or a growing number of customer requests will spark change in PC manufacturers plans remains to be seen.

To date, few top-tier manufacturers offer business-oriented AMD-processor systems in the United States.

HP, the largest example, has offered AMD-based HP Compaq Business PCs to the small and midsize business market for some time. But its yet to deliver a machine designed specifically for larger companies in the United States.

HPs HP Compaq Business Desktop dx5150 desktop model comes with AMDs Athlon 64 or Athlon 64 X2 chips at the moment. Its HP Compaq Business Notebook nx6325 offers AMDs 64 Turion X2 to small and midsize businesses.

Theres nothing to preclude a large business from buying a machine like the nx6325. Many have, HP executives have said.

HP has yet to offer an AMD machine thats specifically tailored to its larger accounts. Although company executives have said it may do so at some point.

Lenovo, too, has targeted the small and midsize business space with AMD-based desktops. There, its Lenovo 3000 brand 3000j desktops offer a choice between AMD and Intel processors.

But the arrival of the ThinkCentre A60 will display a larger commitment to AMD than the computer maker has made before.

Lenovo has made other changes to its desktop lineup ahead of the expected August appearance of the ThinkCentre A60.

The company has discontinued its ThinkCentre E Series desktop, which had also been aimed at the small and midsize business space.

A Lenovo spokesperson in Raleigh, N.C., confirmed that the E Series has been discontinued.

As its Lenovo 3000 brand desktops offer similar features, the company intends to offer those machines to its small and midsize business customers instead.

Lenovos ThinkPad notebook line will remain stable, and both its ThinkCentre desktops and ThinkPad notebooks will adopt Intels Core 2 Duo processor, which launched on July 27, in the future, he said.

But, when asked about ThinkCentre and AMD, he declined to comment.

Editors Note: This story was updated to include more information on AMDs plans.

Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news in desktop and notebook computing.

Rocket Fuel