Advanced Micro Devices is launching a new graphics-oriented platform for its laptop chips today. And for once, because of a short Intel delay, it has a small window to hit back at the world’s biggest chip maker. The upshot for consumers will be more choices of faster laptops with better battery life.
AMD used to make Intel look so bad, starting in 2003 when AMD launched the Opteron processor. But now the world’s biggest chip maker has turned the tables. Nowhere has Intel’s lead been stronger than in mobile with its Centrino platform.
For the first time in two years, AMD is launching a new platform for laptops, dubbed Turion X2 and Turion X2 Ultra, with new laptop chips. With platform (code-named Puma), AMD is promoting graphics ability, gaming, and high-definition video performance. Since Intel has the processor performance edge, AMD has to go this route and push consumers to consider graphics performance.
With Turion X2, AMD is targeting desktop replacement and mid-range notebooks with large screens and high-performance. Intel has a much broader product range of portable chips, from its Atom chips for tiny handhelds to its high-end Core 2 Duo chips for entertainment laptops. But Bahr Mahoney, an AMD product marketer, says the company’s Turion lines will be able to hit about 92 percent of the laptop market.
It remains to be seen how this round turns out. AMD says that more than 100 Puma-based machines are coming from computer makers; that’s more than twice the number the original Turion platform launched with in 2006. Intel is expected to have a lot more notebook models with Montevina, according to JoAnne Feeney, an analyst at FTN Midwest Securities.
Intel, meanwhile, will counter Puma with its Montevina platform, which has a new chipset with WiMax-based wireless Internet radios for the first time. The Montevina platform has apparently been delayed until mid-August. Thanks to the relentless innovation of the chip rivals and other advances in mobile, International Data Corp. predicts that 2008 will go down as the year when mobile shipments surpass desktops.
The Puma platform will have two variants, the Turion X2 and the Turion X2 Ultra. Each consists of a bunch of chips that AMD will offer as a one-stop shopping solution for computer makers. The chips include AMD’s newest mobile processors, ATI Radeon graphics chips, the 7 series chip set, and certified WiFi chips from AMD’s wireless chip partners.
Mahoney says that Intel has been overselling consumers on beefy microprocessors with weak graphics, leaving an opening for Puma to satisfy consumers who want better graphics. AMD currently has about 20 percent of the notebook processor market. But we’ll see what happens when Intel launches its own broadsides in the mobile war.