AMD Rolls Out Low-Watt Processors

The world's second-largest chip maker is also now offering a new dual-core processor, a dual-core Athlon 6000+ model, as the company continues to revamp its desktop line.

With little fanfare, Advanced Micro Devices released two, low-watt Athlon desktop processors on Feb. 20, along with a new dual-core chip model, the Athlon 64 X2 6000+, the company said in a statement.

The single-core processors, the Athlon 64 3500+ and the 3800+, while not new models, will now be produced using the companys 65-nanometer manufacturing process and have 45-watt thermal envelopes.

The Athlon 64 X2 6000+ is the latest desktop model from the Sunnyvale, Calif., company. Unlike the other two models that were released on Tuesday, this chip, which is clocked at 3.0GHz, uses the older 90-nanometer manufacturing process and has a 125-watt thermal envelope.

The new chip releases come after AMD made several announcements about changes to its processor lineup. On Feb. 12, the company announced that it would lower the prices on several of its desktop processors. When the new prices were announced, company officials said the lower prices reflected the demands of its customers, not the ongoing price war involving its main rival, Intel.

In addition to the changes to its desktop lineup, the company used the International Solid State Circuits Conference in San Francisco earlier this month to show improvements to its new quad-core Opteron processor, called "Barcelona," which will be released later this year.

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The changes come at a time when AMD has found itself in a tough position, despite the fact that the company has gained some additional market share. The ongoing struggle with Intel affected the companys bottom line when it announced its fourth-quarter results on Jan. 23. On Feb. 15, a new report from American Technology Research pointed to the companys product lineup as a problem.

"OEM relationships are straining to stay engaged with AMD at this time, given its stale product line-up," wrote Doug Freedman, an analyst with American Technology Research. "We continue to think AMD needs to get new products out to regain a competitive stance. In the meantime, we think management will be forced to come to the capital markets for operating cash before the end of the summer."

While the Barcelona quad-core chip is expected to reinvigorate AMDs lineup when its released later this year, Intel has taken advantage of the lull to offer more dual-core and quad-core processors for both enterprise customers and consumers.

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With the release of the Athlon 3500+ and the 3800+ processors, AMD is pushing the power efficiency of its chips.

"Using the reduced line widths enabled by 65 [nanometer] technology, AMD can produce more processors on a 300mm wafer while manufacturing processors designed for low-power consumption, reinforcing AMDs commitment to energy-efficient computing," according to the companys statement.

The company also touted that the new chips will help with the new graphics and features found in Microsoft Windows Vista operating system.

In addition to being manufactured to 65 nanometers, the Athlon 64 3500+ and the 3800+ each offer 512KB of L2 cache, a 2000MHz HyperTransport bus and the companys new socket, called AM2. The 3500+ is clocked at 2.2GHz and the 3800+ runs at 2.4GHz.

AMD first began shipping 65-nanometer processors in December.

The dual-core Athlon 64 X2 6000+ processor offers 2MB of L2 cache, a 2000MHz HyperTransport bus and the AM2 socket.

The Athlon 64 processor 3500+ and the 3800+ are priced at $88 and $93 per 1,000 units shipped, respectively. The Athlon 64 X2 dual-core 6000+ processor is priced at $464 per 1,000 units shipped.

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