AMDs Turion Takes Aim at Intels Mobile Chips

AMD launches its Turion family of 64-bit mobile processors, its first chips designed specifically for the mobile space.

Advanced Micro Devices Inc. on Thursday is launching its Turion family of 64-bit mobile processors, which are designed to compete directly with rival Intel Corp.s Pentium M chip and Centrino mobile platform.

The Turion processors are the first that AMD, of Sunnyvale, Calif., has designed specifically for the mobile computing space. Previously, the company adapted desktop Athlon 64 processors for notebooks. AMD will continue selling Mobile Athlon 64 chips for full-size notebooks.

Turion chips will enable AMD to gain greater traction in the growing thin-and-light notebook market, which is particularly big in the commercial space, said Bahr Mahony, division marketing manager with AMDs mobile processor group.

Systems makers and customers "are very much open to a processor brand such as AMD," Mahony said.

AMD expects that half of all notebooks sold will be in the thin-and-light category by 2006. Officials said the first notebooks armed with Turion will come from Acer Inc. worldwide and Fujitsu Siemens Computers in Europe.

AMD is releasing seven models in the Turion family, four of which—the ML 30, 32, 34 and 37—consume 35 watts of power, and the other three—the MT 30, 32 and 34—have a power envelope of 25 watts. Frequency in the chips ranges from 1.6GHz to 2GHz, and cache size from 512KB to 1MB. The price range is from $184 to $354, per 1,000 units shipped.

Mahony said the 25-watt envelope and 1MB of cache are key differentiators for AMD, as users are looking for more performance and greater battery life in their notebooks. In addition, the chips are made through the 90-nanometer manufacturing process, enabling AMD to put more features on the chip.

The processors also offer power management features through AMDs C3 Deeper Sleep and PowerNow offerings. In addition, the chips are compatible with 802.11 a, b and g and Bluetooth wireless solutions, and support SSE graphics instructions through AMDs 3DNow Professional technology.

Security features include Enhanced Virus Protection, and Turion also offers AMDs HyperTransport I/O interconnect technology.


Click here for ExtremeTechs look at the Turion.

While AMD wants Turion to compete with Intels offerings, the company is not going to offer a platform like Intels Centrino, which offers an integrated chip, chip set and wireless component. Instead, AMD will continue partnering with such companies as Via Technologies Inc., Broadcom Corp. and Nvidia Corp. for the chip sets and Wi-Fi components.

OEMs had told AMD that they didnt want to be limited in their choice of components by having the chip maker supply everything, Mahony said.

Still, AMD faces a tough battle with Intel, of Santa Clara, Calif., in this space. The Pentium M chip was designed with notebooks in mind, and the Centrino platform has gained significant traction since its introduction in 2003.


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