AMD has no immediate plans to release a processor designed for low-cost laptops, also known as netbooks, saying it's not yet clear whether growing shipments of these devices will cannibalise sales of mainstream laptops.

Some low-end netbook models use an existing AMD Geode processor, but the company hasn't announced a specific processor aimed at this product segment, apart from general plans to release chips based on a low-power architecture called Bobcat in 2010.

"We haven't announced anything for this type of cheap mini-notebook and we're still taking this wait-and-see attitude," said Pat Moorhead, AMD's vice-president of advanced marketing.

"The fact that there are a number of models coming out might give the indication that [the market is] growing and everybody wants to do this, but what's interesting is you pull back the covers and talk to people in the industry and they're kind of scared," he said.

That fear stems from a concern that netbook sales will undermine sales of more powerful machines.

"If you can't grow the market with this form factor, then what you're providing is a lower experience for less money, which isn't good for the consumer and isn't good for the [hardware maker], and really isn't good for the channel as well," Moorhead said.

Other companies and analysts are also worried, in part due to the popularity of the mini laptops.

The recent proliferation of netbooks are largely due to the success of Asus's Intel Celeron M-based Eee PC, which was introduced in 2007. The June unveiling of Intel's Atom processor, designed expressly for small, inexpensive laptops, spurred the release of a host of copycat devices by hardware makers looking to replicate the Eee PC's success.

As demand and the number of available systems increases, netbooks are drifting further from the original vision for these products as small and inexpensive portable computers. Screen sizes have increased, from the 7in screen of the original Eee PC to 10in displays on some models, and Windows XP is now an option, replacing Linux as the operating system of choice. Prices have followed.