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Some IBM ThinkPads feature AMD chips

Big Blue for the first time puts Advanced Micro Devices processors in its leading laptop line. For now, only the i Series in Japan will sport the chips.

IBM for the first time is using processors from Advanced Micro Devices in its ThinkPad line of portable computers.

IBM is using an Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) K6-2 processor in its ThinkPad i Series in Japan. Typically, adoption in Japan, the world's second-largest computer market, portends later adoption in the U.S. IBM would not comment.

The ThinkPad line includes some of the best-selling portable computers ever--including the 560, 600, and 770 lines. A new line, called the "i" series, was recently introduced for small businesses and consumers.

In Japan, the i series Model 1436 will sport the 300-MHz AMD K6-2 processor. It also includes a 4.8GB hard drive, CD-ROM drive, a 13.3-inch active- matrix LCD screen, 64MB of memory, and a 56-kbps modem. It lists for about 269,000 yen, or about $2,280.

All of IBM's other ThinkPad models use Intel Pentium, Pentium II, or Celeron processors. This is a typical industry practice because large corporate customers, which are the biggest buyers of ThinkPads, traditionally prefer to stick with Intel offerings.

But this is beginning to slowly change. The inclusion of AMD processors in ThinkPads is more evidence that AMD is quietly slipping into business computers. Compaq has shifted to AMD chips in some of its Prosignia small-business desktops and portables.

In related news, today, IBM released its new 570 line of ultralight, ultrathin ThinkPads. This line is the successor to the popular 560. The 570 is only an inch thick and weighs four pounds, about two pounds less than mainstream notebook computers.