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New AMD chip pre-empts Intel's Santa Rosa

AMD M690 chipset boosts battery life

AMD has introduced a new chipset for mobile computing on wireless networks in an attempt to get ahead of similar news expected soon from rival Intel.

AMD says it has begun shipping a new mobile chipset, based on its AMD M690 chipset, which could be included in notebook computers from HP, Dell and Acer by the end of the month. AMD officials said the M690 platform will help increase battery life, important in notebooks, by 25 percent to more than five hours, compared to the previous-generation AMD platform.

AMD hopes the new chipset and its existing partnerships with graphics chipmaker Nvidia and wireless chipmaker Broadcom can challenge the next version of Intel's Centrino platform, called Santa Rosa, which will be unveiled next week.

A number of market and technology developments have converged of late and the AMD-Nvidia-Broadcom collaboration will respond to them, said Bahr Mahony, marketing manager for AMD's mobile products business.

Microsoft's Windows Vista operating system (see our Windows Vista review) introduced in January offers more high-end graphics capability, include 3D imaging, which will drive demand for more video games as well as other displays. The AMD Turion 64 X2 dual-core processor introduced in May 2006 is designed to deliver more processing power for those uses. The X2, originally made using a 90-nanometre process, will now be made using a 65-nanometre process. Also, the emerging 802.11n standard for wireless computing, still in draft stage, is expected to increase the speed and capacity of Wi-Fi networks.

"With the latest generation chipsets and then the 802.11n technology, it's going to provide a superior experience, now that there's more of a graphics-intensive environment with Vista 3D," said Mahony.

At the launch, executives of AMD, Nvidia and Broadcom touted their Better by Design partnership, first announced at the Consumer Electronics Show in January. They demonstrated how their new platform can deliver improved graphics in video games and greater versatility in home networking environments. A Broadcom executive showed a movie being streamed directly from the internet to a large-screen HDTV while a laptop played a video game and a second laptop another movie, all on the same 802.11n network.

Executives at the demonstration also claimed greater screen resolution and faster processing than what they expect from the new Intel Santa Rosa.

AMD gained ground on chip giant Intel in recent years with new multi-core processors, but its momentum slowed this year as Intel regained the upper hand. AMD lost $611m in the first quarter of 2007, citing price competition from Intel, and announced plans to cut $500 million in expenses to return to profitability.

But AMD has a chance to rebound with a more robust mobile computing platform, said Nathan Brookwood, an analyst with the firm Insight 64.

"AMD is not thought of as having technology comparable to Intel on the mobile platform and what they are saying here is that they are in much better shape from a technology standpoint than people give them credit for," said Brookwood.

AMD will offer two mobile computing platforms, both of which feature an AMD Turion 64 X2 processor and a Broadcom wireless processor. One version features an Nvidia graphics processor and another features an ATI graphics processor. AMD acquired ATI in 2006.


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