AMD Aims to Reform Boring PCs

The chip maker will soon deliver a line of low-power desktop processors it believes PC makers will use to craft smaller, sleeker desktops and other client computers.

Advanced Micro Devices is about to roll out a new line of low-power processors in an effort to encourage a move away from the one-size-fits-all desktop PC.

The chip maker on May 16 announced a line of low-power processors for desktop PCs, including 35-watt chips such as a dual-core Athlon 64 X2 3800+ processor, as part of a broader initiative its quietly working on with the aim of fostering diversification of PC designs.

The low-power chips are designed to assist manufacturers in creating smaller, thinner desktops for the corporate market as well as for consumers.

But the company also expects that the chips will help popularize alternatives, such as one AMD executives call stateless PCs—desktops that come without hard drives and instead rely on servers to host their applications and data—they have said.

Whereas most of todays desktops attempt to offer one-size-fits-all computing, AMD executives envision a new crop of computers that offer businesses many more options for outfitting different types of employees.

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"I expect us to change the game in 06. We actually think the muscle thats being put behind shifting commercial clients to dual-core [processors] could bet a flawed strategy here," said Marty Seyer, vice president Commercial Business and Performance Computing at AMD, in Sunnyvale, Calif.

Instead, Seyer argues that while some users could benefit from beefy, dual-core machines, many others would not need the horsepower and could get by with small desktops or devices like the so-called stateless PC. All told, AMD sees eight or 10 different scenarios for client computing, including mobile, he said.

"There is something called good enough performance in commercial clients. That offers a range of possibilities from thinness to traditional clients—but putting the right amount of compute power [in place] when you need it where you need it," Seyer said, in a recent interview with eWEEK.

Among the scenarios are diskless PCs for security-conscious companies, or PCs that separate their business software from a workers personal applications, using virtualization, Seyer said.

"What were saying is youre going to have a cluster of options that you didnt have before. Dual-core chips will still be there. Our strategy here is to capitalize on that part of the business and then add another set of business models and be the leader."

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