Gateway Embraces AMD's Phenom

Gateway becomes the second significant PC vendor, after HP, to offer AMD's quad-core Phenom, designed primarily for high-end desktops and gaming PCs.

Gateway is giving AMD's Phenom processor a big hug.

The PC vendor, which is now part of Acer, announced Jan. 30 that it would offer Advanced Micro Devices' new quad-core processors in a pair of high-end desktops for gamers and PC enthusiasts-the GM5664 and the GT5662.

Gateway is now the second significant PC vendor to embrace AMD's quad-core Phenom, which has been designed primarily for high-end desktops and gaming PCs. Earlier in January, Hewlett-Packard announced that it would include Phenom processors in its Pavilion Media Center m8330f desktop.

Since December, AMD has detailed a number of problems with bringing its quad-core desktop chips and its Opteron processors for servers to the market on time. Some of the problems included a bug within the chips' translation-lookaside buffer, which caused problems with data being transferred from the Level 2 to the Level 3 cache. While the bug has caused more problems with Opteron's performance than Phenom's, the problems forced AMD to scale back on its desktop chip during Christmas season.

Now that vendors are preparing to refresh their PCs for the first part of 2008, many are looking at AMD as a low-cost alternative to Intel, which also offer a number of quad-core processors for high-end PCs, said John Spooner, an analyst with Technology Business Research.

In order to get Phenom out into the market, especially the retail market, AMD might be looking to cut deals with its OEM partners. Now that it is part of the much larger Acer, Gateway might also be able to negotiate a better price per chip with AMD, Spooner added.

While the adoption of Phenom among PC vendors has had little impact on the enterprise, it does show that AMD can still deliver its products to market at a time when the momentum in the chip industry has shifted to Intel. A recent report by Mercury Research showed that AMD lost less than 1 percent of its share of the x86 chip market in 2007.

The benefit for customers is a high-end desktop at a much lower cost. The Gateway GM5664, for example, offers a Phenom 9600 processor-2.3GHz clock speed and 2MB of L3 cache-along with the Nvidia GeForce 6150 SE chip set, an ATI Radeon HD 2400XT graphics card, 3GB of RAM, and a 1TB SATA (Serial ATA) hard disk drive, for a price of $1,449, according to Gateway.

The GT5662 starts at $749 and offers the Phenom 9500 processor with a 2.2GHz clock speed, and the same chip speed, graphics card and 3GB of RAM. This PC has a SATA hard drive with a top capacity of 500GB. This desktop is similar to the HP Pavilion m8330f PC, which offers the same Phenom processor, RAM and hard disk drive capacity for a $959 starting price.

The two new Gateway desktops, which are now available, offer Microsoft's Windows Vista operating system.