AMD Chips Might Come in Ultramobile PCs

A report says manufacturers may consider using AMD chips for ultramobile PCs, and in other news, Intel and AMD are working on new dual-core chips for desktops.

Chip maker Advanced Micro Devices may get a hand in the ultramobile PC.

The chip maker offers a fleet of relatively low-power, low-price chips in its Geode processor line, in addition to selling a series of mobile Sempron and Turion processors for notebook PCs.

Several of the chips may fit into the new category of ultramobile PCs,—called UMPCs for short—which are being marketed as small, lightweight portable computers that can check e-mail and play multimedia files, yet still run Microsofts Windows XP operating system.

Such a development would sit with AMDs outlook. Company executives have, in the past, discussed an idea of "x86 everywhere," where its chips range from handhelds and notebook computers up to large, multi-processor servers.

Given that UMPCs use standard PC software like Windows XP, manufacturers could use AMD chips like the Geode or the mobile Sempron.

Some are at least considering the idea, a report by DigiTimes says.

An AMD spokesperson said AMD strives to meet the needs of its customers. But he declined to comment on the report.

To date, UMPCs have mainly been a project of Microsoft, with the backing of Intel and device manufacturers such as Samsung and Founder. The companies are pitching the first of the machines, some of which are built around 7-inch screens, as PC companions that are more capable than cellular phones or PDAs—the UMPCs can switch from playing music or videos to checking e-mail and still run Windows applications—but more portable than notebooks PCs.

The first UMPCs, launched March 9 by companies such as Samsung and Founder, are slate-style devices that will weigh about 2 pounds and sport 7-inch screens and are targeted to cost between about $600 and $1,000.

Intel executives have said that they believe the category has great promise, over the long run, to become an important device for on-the-go consumers or for corporate workers to stay in touch.

VIA Technologies, which sells PC processors and chip sets, also has a stake in the platform. The company has said least one ultramobile PC, the SmartCaddie from Japans PBJ, will use its C7-M processor and supporting chips.

Adding AMD might give the platform even more weight.

But some feel the UMPC has a ways to go if it is to become popular.

Gartner analysts, in a report released last week, called the current UMPC a tweener, saying its neither priced low enough, nor is it compelling enough to find wide adoption.

UMPCs wont find success, the report said, without revisions that increase how long their batteries last, lead to improvements in their user interfaces and offer buyers more content.

Opening prices on UMPCs, meanwhile, must be lowered to under $400 for the machines to reach their potential, the Gartner report said.

"We question the timing of this launch: Why rush this to market before it is ready to succeed? Despite the promise of this device category, the UMPC as currently conceived will fail to achieve mainstream success—defined as unit sales in the millions rather than the thousands—by 2009," the analysts wrote in the report.

In other chip news, both Intel and AMD have tipped their hands on new dual-core processors for desktops.

Notifications published on Intels Web site show that it is rolling out a new circuitry design for its Pentium D—something its engineers calls a new stepping internally—and will discontinue sales of its Pentium D 920 this summer, suggesting Intel will add new Pentium D 900-series models.

Intel Pentium D models 930 and above will use the new circuitry, the documents show.

Among other things, they will use less power, averaging 95 watts, and gain features such as enhanced SpeedStep. The feature will turns down the clock speed of the Pentium Ds at times of lower demand in order to save power.

For its part, AMD is prepping an Athlon 64 X2 5000+ model, a technical document posted to its Web site shows.

Right now its top-of-the-line X2 is a model 4800+, which runs at 2.4GHz. The new model 5000+ chip will get a speed bump to 2.6GHz, documents posted on AMDs site show.


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