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AMD, China new schoolmates

The chipmaker sign a joint venture with the China Basic Education Software Company to develop three new kinds of computers for the country's education market.

Advanced Micro Devices is looking at the Chinese market as a learning experience.

AMD on Tuesday announced it has signed a joint venture with the China Basic Education Software Company to develop three new kinds of computers for the education market in China.

The joint venture, called Beijing CBE AMD Information Technology Company, will develop a Student PC, a Teacher PC and a Classroom Server. These new machines will use AMD chips, including its Athlon or Duron processors as well as its flash memory and MIPS chips. AMD's MIPS line was acquired when it purchased Alchemy Semiconductor in February.

China is one of the last frontiers for AMD, its processor rival Intel, and PC manufacturers, who have been grappling with slower sales brought on by economic woes in the United States and Europe. Although sales have been flat or down overall, rapid economic expansion and a large population have produced double-digit annual growth rates in China.

AMD's chips are popular in the Asia-Pacific region, which includes China, but the joint venture is a more direct effort by the company to tap the Chinese computer market.

For its part, "AMD is committed to advancing the technology market in China, a nation that is one of the world's largest and fastest-growing semiconductor markets," said Hector Ruiz, AMD's president, in a statement. "We expect this relationship to solidly position AMD as a preferred supplier in China and expand AMD's participation in China's microprocessor, embedded processor and flash-memory markets."

The total market for hardware in the Asia-Pacific region, which includes China, will be $32 billion this year, according to a recent report by Gartner.

"The PC penetration rate is below 5 percent. This is still very much a growth market," said W.T. Tan, president of Intel China, in a recent interview. "China is still in love with technology."