AMD Targets Mobile Computing, Emerging Markets

AMD and HP announce a new line of consumer notebooks running on the Turion 64 processor, and AMD says it has made a deal with the third-largest PC maker in China to build a line of desktops powered by AMD processors.

Chip maker Advanced Micro Devices Inc. on Wednesday made strides in two areas officials say are important to the company: mobile computing and emerging markets.

AMD and Hewlett-Packard Co., on the first day of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, announced a new line of consumer notebooks running on the chip makers Turion 64 processor.

In addition, the Sunnyvale, Calif., company said that it had reached a deal with the third-largest PC maker in China, which is building a line of commercial and consumer desktops powered by AMD processors.

Both moves highlight AMDs push into areas where company officials feel there is a lot of room to grow.

President and COO Dirk Meyer, in a recent interview with eWEEK, said both are on the companys radar for 2006.

He said emerging markets such as China represent a more level playing field with rival Intel Corp. than some more established markets.

"It used to be no, and the reason for that two and three years ago, again, because of our size, we didnt have the feet on the ground in these emerging regions," Meyer said.

"If you take China, for example, two or three years ago, we did not have any material team of people in mainland China developing relationships with government entities, universities and so on. … Over the past three years, we got together a very large number of capable people in those countries and growing those teams."

Tsinghua Tongfang is rolling out nine new commercial and consumer PCs running on AMDs Athlon 64, Athlon 64 X2 and Sempron chips.

The deal is the latest push by AMD into Asia.

/zimages/1/28571.gifClick here to read more about AMDs efforts in Asia.

Lenovo Group Ltd., which early last year bought IBMs PC business to become the worlds third-largest PC maker behind Dell Inc. and HP, already sells systems based on AMD chips.

Last fall, AMD announced it was licensing its x86 processor design to the Chinese government, and in December, President and CEO Hector Ruiz said the company was considering expanding its manufacturing operations into the Asia region.

Like many technology companies, AMD is attracted to the region because of its rapidly growing markets, skilled workforce and lower costs of doing business.

Meyer said AMD probably will need to grow its manufacturing capabilities as it transitions to new manufacturing processes, including 65-nanometer and smaller.

Key factors for deciding on a site include the existing infrastructure and financial considerations, he said.

In addition to the deal with Tsinghua Tongfang, AMD and HP, of Palo Alto, Calif., announced new consumer notebooks that feature AMDs Turion 64 mobile chip, including the latest Turion 64 ML-44 model.

The 17-inch HP dv8000 series and 15.4-inch dv5000 notebooks, which both ship with the Turion 64 chips, target the rapidly growing digital home space.

Both are available with Microsoft Corp.s Windows XP Media Center Edition, and offer the BrightView technology—designed to improve the display on the screen—as an option.

HP offers other Turion-based notebooks, but the new systems illustrate the OEMs commitment to AMDs technology.

The mobile space also is an area that AMD will focus on in 2006.

While the chip maker has gained traction and market share in the PC and server arenas, it hasnt been as strong in notebooks. Meyer said AMD over the past few years has focused more on the desktop and server spaces.

"If you look at our history, we were and still are way smaller than our competition, so we focused on a smaller number of categories—desktop, desktop, desktop," he said.

"We then focused incrementally on server. Next will be mobile, and the Turion stuff we have the market today is the first example of products that were, to any meaningful degree, built with mobile in mind, although even there theyre highly leveraged from a desktop product."

Intels Centrino package—which is a bundled chip, chip set and wireless component—has been a boon in its mobile computing push.

The Santa Clara, Calif., company at CES this week is expected to talk about its upcoming Core processor, code-named "Yonah," which will replace its Pentium M mobile chip.

AMD has not offered its own packaged Centrino-like mobile offering, but is working with specific partners who will bring technology that will work with the Turion chip to give users a choice of components, officials said.

/zimages/1/28571.gifCheck out eWEEK.coms for the latest news in desktop and notebook computing.