AMD 'Puma' Ready to Pounce

The chip maker's laptop platform is mainly geared toward consumers, but AMD is looking to make strides in the SMB and public sector markets.

AMD is ready to let "Puma" roar.

At the 2008 Computex conference, June 4 in Taipei, Taiwan, AMD will officially unveil its new laptop platform, formally code-named Puma, as the chip maker looks to gain a bigger share of the red-hot notebook market.

Just as it did with its recently released desktop platform, AMD is offering Puma as a complete package that includes the company's own processor, the dual-core Turion x2 Ultra, 7-series chip set and ATI Radeon HD 3000 series graphics.

AMD is mainly targeting the platform at consumers, who are continuing to choose notebooks over desktops, which is one reason that IDC predicts that 71 percent of consumer purchases and 66 percent of commercial buys will be laptops by 2011.

The company also designed the platform to appeal to small and midsize businesses, which are also switching to laptops, and specialized markets such as government and education.

"The notebook provides an opportunity for IT to reduce support and maintenance costs," said Scott Shutter, a brand manager for AMD. "In the public sector they tend to have older infrastructure. However, they can update their client technologies and have the latest client devices and still extend the life of that infrastructure by having modern clients without increasing the complexity of the network."

AMD Beats Intel to Notebook Market

AMD is releasing Puma at a fortuitous time as the company looks to bounce back from a series of missteps in 2007. Before the Computex show kicked off, Intel told its customers that it would delay releasing its Centrino 2 laptop platform after the company discovered problems with the chip set's integrated graphics. There were also problems with the licensing of Intel's WiMax technology in the United States.

This means that AMD will bring its laptop to the market first, which some analysts believe will give it an edge, especially when it comes to back-to-school and holiday sales later this year.

Rob Enderle, an analyst with the Enderle Group, said that Puma, for the first time, gives AMD a chance to compete with Intel in the laptop market. While Enderle believes that AMD still can not compete against Intel when it comes to power efficiency, he does think that Puma's graphics, both integrated and discrete, are better than what Intel offers with Centrino.

"Their [AMD's] advantage is with graphics," said Enderle. "Companies have been specifying that an increasing number of notebooks have discrete graphics. It's still not the prevalent way of doing things, but it's a growing trend so that might indicate that AMD may have an advantage with regard to this trend. However, most folks are still buying [integrated graphics] Intel."

For the most part, the integrated and discrete Radeon graphics are meant to offer consumers options such as being able to download and watch high-definition video or support Microsoft's DX10 graphics API. AMD also packed a number of power-saving features into Puma to appeal to commercial buyers and to try to close the gap with Intel's offerings.