HP Ships Athlon 64 Notebooks

Without fanfare, HP launches its first notebooks containing AMD's Athlon 64 processor.

Hewlett-Packard Co. has quietly begun shipping its first notebooks containing Advanced Micro Devices Inc.s Athlon 64 processor.

HPs low-key rollout follows the launch of the eMachines M6805 notebook in January, the reason the PC giant played down the release, HP executives said. Two new Athlon 64 notebooks, the HP Pavilion zv5000z and the Compaq R3000Z, are available for purchase from HPs Web site.

"This is a new board for us, not a major new platform," said Jonathan Kaye, manager of product line marketing for HP notebooks. "The reason theres not a ton of noise is because were not the first ones out there."

However, Kaye said HP is actively promoting the notebooks to customers and that the build-to-order SKUs being offered now will be available next month in fixed configurations for retail store shelves.

For now, HP is positioning both notebooks as middle-of-the-road offerings. HP calls the HP Pavilion zv5000z notebook a "mobile gaming system" and has priced it beginning at $1,049. The company will ship the notebook with either a 2800+ or 3000+ Athlon XP processor or a 3000+ or 3200+ Athlon 64. Customers have the option of a 15.0-inch or 15.4-inch WSXGA+ screen, with 128MB to 2GB of DDR-333 memory. The notebook also includes the GeForce 4 440 Go graphics card for mobile gaming. Other options include up to an 80GB hard drive, either a floppy or HP USB "Digital Drive," Harmon Kardon speakers, and a 5-in-1 flash card reader. In addition, the zv5000z includes a 10/100 Ethernet connection.

Although AMD is phasing out its "Barton" chip architecture, HP will continue to ship notebooks using the chip at about the $1,000 price point. The company will soon be announcing new Athlon XP-based offerings for the retail space, Kaye said. Meanwhile, AMD has begun redesigning the Athlon XP to use the new Athlon 64 core, and HP will continue to offer a limited number of notebooks using the redesigned chip, he said.

"In the coming cycle, 95 percent of what we offer will probably be Hammer 64," he said.

HP didnt provide specifics for the Compaq R3000Z configuration, which starts at $1,049. The notebook includes a pair of DIMM slots, the GeForce 4 440 Go graphics chip, an optional widescreen display, a DVD/CD-RW combo drive, three USB 2.0 ports, an S-Video connection, the 5-in-1 digital media card reader, and an expansion port for the new HP notebook expansion base, which the company sells separately.