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AMD close to corporate laptop deals

The chipmaker is on the verge of a milestone it has sought for years: a deal that would put its notebooks into the hands of the Fortune 500.

SAN FRANCISCO--Advanced Micro Devices is on the verge of a milestone it has sought for years: a deal that would put its notebooks into the hands of the Fortune 500.

A couple of large corporations are considering adopting Hewlett-Packard's Compaq nx6125 notebook, which contains a Turion processor from AMD, said Bar Mahony, division marketing manager for AMD's mobile-business segment.

"We are in the midst of negotiating deals for the notebook for Fortune 500 companies," he said. "Certainly, it is a significant milestone for AMD-based notebooks."

The company will also kick off an ad campaign touting its Opteron server chip and challenging rival Intel to a performance bake-off.

Processor news and code names will be tough to escape this week. Intel is expected to announce a new chip architecture coming in the second half of 2006, as well as a line of chips for consumer electronics at the Intel Developer Conference, which starts Tuesday in San Francisco.

Technically, AMD doesn't attend the show. Instead, it rents hotel suites nearby for briefings and hires people to pass out AMD literature in front of the Moscone Convention Center.

The corporate world has long been a dream deferred for AMD. For most of its history, the company's chips have gone into consumer computers. In 2000, the company came close to signing deals with major PC makers to put Athlon chips into corporate desktops.

The subsequent meltdown of the PC market, however, caused those deals to fall through, then-CEO Jerry Sanders said at the time. (Nearly five years later, AMD alleged in a lawsuit that Intel pressure caused some of these types of deals to evaporate.)

The Opteron chip, released in 2003, has gained widespread acceptance in the corporate world. In the second quarter, AMD accounted for 11.2 percent of the market for x86 server chips.

AMD, though, still sells few desktop and notebook chips into this market. Instead, most of the AMD-based business computers are sold in small- and medium-size business computers. The nx6125, which debuted in June, was designed as a medium-size business machine. Part of the buyer reluctance comes from the lengthy qualification and testing processes that large corporate buyers undergo when looking at new computers.

Mahony also said that AMD will come out with a dual-core Turion in the first half of 2006. Intel is slated to come out with Yonah, a dual-core notebook chip, in the first part of 2006.

One of the key differences between the chips is that Yonah will not include 64-bit processing. Mooly Eden, vice president of Intel's mobility group, has said that adding that functionality boosts power consumption. Few software applications for Windows that take advantage of 64-bit functionality exist right now.

Mahony and others have said that 64-bit computing will become more mainstream when Vista--Microsoft's next operating system--emerges in time for the holidays in 2006.