AMD not launching netbook chip (it already has one)

AMD-based netbook-like laptop seen at Computex doesn't mean AMD is getting into the netbook space because, according to the chipmaker, it's already there.

UPDATE: With headlines this week like "AMD jumps into the netbook game," it sounded very much like Advanced Micro Devices was making a belated entry into the netbook segment. But this isn't the case, according to AMD.

AMD chips are already used in a number of existing netbook-like designs like the 10-inch Red Fox Wizbook (above) and OLPC XO laptop
AMD chips are already used in a number of existing netbook-like designs like the 10-inch Red Fox Wizbook (above) and OLPC XO laptop. Red Fox

An AMD spokesperson said that this photo of a purported AMD netbook is, in fact, just a small notebook from Raon Digital--not an AMD reference design.

"It is a Raon Digital product and will start production at the end of July," AMD spokesperson Phil Hughes said in response to an email query. "They have two models. One is TL-56 (Turion processor)-based and the other is Sempron 3700-based."

And Hughes said there are already a raft of netbook-like products in the market using AMD chips including the progenitor of this category of small, low-cost laptops, the One Laptop Per Child XO (OLPC) laptop (which uses the AMD Geode LX-700).

Other products include Red Fox Wizbook (which uses the LX-800), and Kohjinsha E8 (which also uses the LX-800).

So it isn't a question of AMD entering this market or not. It's already there. "Our journey with OLPC started three years ago," said AMD vice president Pat Moorhead. "We are in this market. But what we are (also) saying is that because we've learned a lot in this market, we see a much better opportunity in that 8 to 12 inch notebook space. As opposed to passing something off as a PC that is very un-PC like," Moorhead said.

Moorhead has listed pluses and minuses (mostly minuses) about the Asus Eee PC 8G netbook in his blog. He believes it is critical that netbook suppliers be clear about what the netbook lacks.

"Be very clear what (a netbook) can't do. With SSD flash versions it's not going to be able to sufficiently hold your audio collection. It prompted me to load (Windows) XP SP3 (service pack 3) and I only have a 167 megabytes remaining," he grumbled.

(Pat Moorhead's blog here.)

And AMD sees similar compromises that may disappoint users in the mobile Internet device (MID) category, too. But it's not that AMD is not a player. The company has shipped over 250 million Imageon processors to mobile handset suppliers that offer a wide range of devices including MID-like smartphones, according to Moorhead. "We licensed our intellectual property to Qualcomm, Nokia, STMicro, and Freescale. So we know that market pretty well," Moorhead said.

Intel, on the other hand, is pushing its Atom processor hard and finding a lot of interest in netbooks from companies like Acer, Dell, MSI, and a host of smaller companies.

Intel expects the market for low-cost computers to increase to 100 million units per year by 2011, according to Bloomberg, compared to the total worldwide notebook market that will hit 194 million units a year over the same period.

About the author

Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.

 

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