Lenovo Means Business with AMD Desktop PC

The company's new line of ThinkCentre A60 desktops for large businesses will offer Athlon and Sempron processors from AMD.

PC maker Lenovo Group says its business customers want more choice, so its offering machines with processors from Advanced Micro Devices.

Lenovo, as expected, will on August 8 unveil ThinkCentre A60, a new line of business desktops targeted at large businesses. The line will offer AMDs Athlon and Sempron processors.

Lenovo designed the ThinkCentre A60 desktop for medium and large businesses in the United States. Despite the lengthy dominance of Intel processors in business PCs, Lenovo says it believes that business PC buyers now desire a choice between processor manufacturers.

To that end, Lenovo will offer the new AMD systems, and will later also deliver machines using Intel processors under the same A60 moniker.

"We had a lot of customers who had been asking for some choice in their business desktops. Some of them have AMD processors in their servers … so customer feedback was, When are we going to see AMD processors in commercial desktops from Lenovo?" Thomas Tobul, executive director for global desktop marketing at Lenovo, said in an interview. "Choice is something customers have really said theyre interested in."

/zimages/6/28571.gifClick here to read more about Lenovos reorganization following its purchase of IBMs Personal Computer Division.

The ThinkCentre A60, which will start at $379 with an AMD Sempron processor and $519 with an Athlon 64 chip, will be available as a minitower or a small desktop. Lenovo will include with the machine such ThinkVantage tools such as Rescue and Recovery, which can recover a PC with compromised software, or System Migration Assistant, which moves a users data and personal settings from one PC to another.

The A60 marks a series of firsts for the PC maker. Aside from being the first Think-brand machine to offer AMD processors—Lenovo has been selling AMD-processor PCs to consumers and large businesses in China and to SMBs (small and midsize businesses) elsewhere in the world—it will also be the first product released by the PC makers recently formed desktop group in Beijing.

As such, Lenovo has great expectations for the machine, which it says offers a competitive price and features.

"What were hoping the A60 allows us to do is to expand our reach and target new customers," Tobul said, speaking from Beijing, where hes coordinating the new desktop team.

The team, whose members are located in both Raleigh, N.C., and Beijing, has been working to streamline the companys desktop PC platforms. Much of its work has gone into distilling several different PC lines into three basic portfolios, including one for large businesses—its ThinkCentre line—and one for SMBs, which will consist of its Lenovo 3000 line. The third portfolio will allow Lenovo to pursue the consumer market in China, he said.

New models, as they roll out in the future, will be based on one of the three portfolios. The portfolios will allow PCs of each type to share components such as motherboards.

"The timing was perfect for the launch of A60 to be able to introduce the first converged product out of this new team," Tobul said. "If I have fewer mechanicals … I can get great efficiencies through that. So the whole thing really makes a lot of sense," he said.

While its officially targeting medium and large businesses, Lenovo will also offer the A60 to SMBs at first. The company, whose desktops are in a transitional period, has been phasing out its ThinkCentre E series, released in October 2005, while targeting its newer Lenovo 3000-brand machines at the SMB space.

/zimages/6/28571.gifClick here to read more about the Lenovo 3000 lineup.

Time will also bring ThinkCentre A60 models with Intel chips. Although Tobul declined to offer details, it appears likely that future A60s will offer the Intel Core 2 Duo processor.

"Over time you will see new Intel-based offerings in an A-class. Those will replace the [ThinkCentre] A50, A52. The series isnt going to be completely an AMD play," Tobul said.

AMD has made strides in the server space, where its Opteron processor has grown to claim more than a quarter of server processor shipments since its 2003 launch. But thus far, only Hewlett-Packard and Lenovo, which offers AMD chips in its Lenovo 3000 line, have offered business PCs with AMD processors in the United States.

Both have directed their business PC lines in the U.S. more toward the SMB market (although HP has sold large numbers of its AMD-based HP Compaq Business Desktop dx5150 models to large business accounts.)

AMD has a plan to expand its presence in the business space, however. The chip maker on July 24 said it would purchase ATI Technologies. Through the acquisition, AMD could play a larger role in the way business PCs using its chips are designed.

Despite changing its desktops, Lenovo is expected to keep its ThinkPad notebook lineup the same in the near future. However, ThinkPad notebooks will soon adopt Intels Core 2 Duo processor, which launched on July 27, the company said.

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