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Dell launches first AMD notebook

Switch means shorter supply for UK makers

Dell has launched its first notebook PC powered by a processor from AMD, instead of an Intel, chip in the US.

With the Inspiron 1501, Dell offers users a choice between AMD's low-end Sempron, mobile Turion 64, and dual-core Turion 64 X2 chips. It’s aiming the product at home entertainment and small business users, offering a baseline configuration of the Sempron chip, a widescreen 15.4in display, 80GB hard drive and 512MB of memory for a starting price of $549 (£290).

Dell launched the product on Wednesday without fanfare, simply listing it on the company website without the usual flurry of press releases. The company did not return calls for comment.

Dell had announced in May that it would began selling AMD-based servers, after remaining loyal to Intel processors for so long that it was the only major PC vendor not offering its customers a choice. By then, AMD had eaten significant chunks of Intel's enormous market share, riding the success of its efficient Opteron server chip to acclaim for its full range of chips. Indeed, by September Dell had also launched AMD-powered desktops.

Intel has since struck back, launching its new Core 2 Duo and Xeon 5100 families of chips in June, July and August. But the damage was already done, as a series of disappointing quarterly earnings results forced Intel to reorganise the company and lay off 10,500 employees.

Dell has shown great confidence in AMD by choosing to use the new chips in its notebook line, the one segment of the PC industry that has been fighting a recent slump in sales growth, analysts said.

"This really shows that AMD has emerged as a legitimate option," said Samir Bhavnani, research director at Current Analysis. "For years one of the concerns Dell had with AMD was its ability to meet demand. Dell would not choose to implement AMD processors in a hot category like notebooks if it wasn't fully confident in AMD's ability to deliver."

However, the knock on effect of Dell’s move to AMD could mean shortages for UK suppliers. One UK vendor told PC Advisor this week that tier-two suppliers were dramatically reducing the number of AMD-based systems they sold due to shorter supply.


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