AMD Eyes Corporate Clients

The chip maker's new desktop platform offers processors, chip sets and graphics geared toward enterprise PCs.

Advanced Micro Devices is taking another shot at the commercial desktop market.

The company plans to officially unveil its new desktop platform, formally code-named Perseus, which will include single, dual-, tri- and quad-core microprocessors, a new chip set called the 780V, and optional ATI Radeon discrete graphics.

AMD has lined up several of the top desktop vendors to offer new or refreshed systems with the new platform. Hewlett-Packard will offer two new corporate desktops, the Compaq dc5850 and the dx2450, while Dell will refresh its OptiPlex 740 with AMD processors and an Nvidia chip set. Fujitsu-Siemens, Acer and Lenovo are expected to offer new desktops that use the platform as well.

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The platform represents one of the main reasons why AMD acquired, and then went into debt to pay for, ATIin 2006. In order to compete against Intel in the commercial client market, the company needed to present a complete platform of processors and chip sets while offering product stability.

When the new platform launches, AMD will offer 24 months of stability for its processors and 18 months of stability for the chip sets. Hal Speed, a marketing architect with AMD, said he expects the company to introduce new processors with different clock speeds every six months to offer additional choices. AMD will follow with a new platform in 2009 code-named Kodiak.

For years, AMD offered this type of stability for its server products, and the company said it believes it must offer those same guarantees to enter into the commercial client market against Intel.

"We have been doing this on the enterprise server side so that we have had predictable road maps and really timely notifications to customers about any silicon revisions when it comes to Opteron, and we are now doing that with the desktop side," said Teresa de Onis, a desktop marketing manager with AMD. "[P]roviding our OEMs partners with this stability is a key requirement to be successful in the commercial space ...We really have to manage the life cycle of the platform."

In addition to AMD platform and product stability, Speed said he believes that the use of the triple-core Phenom X3 processor will help differentiate the company's offering from Intel because the chip has more processing power than a standard dual-core but costs less than a quad-core chip.

The triple core is also a way to appeal to users who deal with multithreaded software.

Kirk Godkin, manager for business desktops at HP, said customers are beginning to see the benefits of using multicore processors instead of just relying on clock speed to judge performance. The dx2450, which is geared toward smaller businesses, and the dc5850, an enterprise-class machine, will offer tri-core Phenom options.

"The triple-core chip has a great usage model today and also moving forward when you think about customers that not only want to multitask but also the amount of multithreaded applications that are rolling out in the market place," Godkin said. "When you have programs like Firefox or [Microsoft] Visual Studio or Vista that really take advantage of multithreading, those customers that use those programs are really going to enjoy what the Phenom processors can do."