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AMD, Intel Centrino 2 make strange bedfellows

Advanced Micro Devices is making gains at Hewlett-Packard, even in Centrino 2 notebooks.

AMD thriving in Intel Centrino 2 notebooks? At Hewlett-Packard, the world's largest PC maker, the answer is "yes."

HP 17-inch 6830s is offered with the AMD-ATI HD 3430 graphics chip
HP 17-inch 6830s is offered with the AMD-ATI HD 3430 graphics chip. Hewlett-Packard

Although consumer notebooks get most of the press, business notebooks get most of the sales. "The prime purchaser of notebooks still remains, as a segment, business," Intel CEO Paul Otellini said during the Intel earnings conference call earlier this week.

Among Hewlett-Packard's slew of upcoming business notebooks (HP Compaq 6730s, 6830s, 6530b, 6930b) with Centrino 2 processors, Advanced Micro Devices' ATI graphics chips figure prominently. And notebooks such as the HP Compaq 6830s and EliteBook 6930p are offered with comparatively high-end AMD-ATI mobile graphics.

"It reflects new design wins," said Dean McCarron, principal at Cave Creek, Ariz.-based Mercury Research.

"Those design wins were locked down last year," new AMD CEO Dirk Meyer said in the company's earnings conference call Thursday, referring to AMD graphics-chip design wins on the Centrino 2 platform. "So, now is when they will start to pay off. (We're) getting 60-plus percent design win share on (Centrino 2)."

The Centrino-2-based EliteBook, for example, packs an ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3450 with up to 256MB of memory. This kind of robust graphics configuration for a business notebook was almost unheard of a year ago when Intel's integrated graphics garnered most of the design wins.

Though Intel's new and improved GMA 4500HD Centrino 2 graphics is offered alongside AMD-ATI graphics in many new HP business notebooks, HP is also selling AMD-only business notebooks based on its Puma platform--AMD's answer to Centrino 2. The upcoming HP Compaq 6735s, for example, offers the AMD Turion X2 Ultra (2.2GHz) with integrated AMD graphics.

Overall, AMD-ATI graphics dominate HP's mainstream business notebook line-up. Out of 16 models listed on HP's "Balanced Mobility" notebook page, a whopping 10 systems are offered with AMD-ATI graphics. And five AMD-only systems appear in the line-up using AMD Turion and Athon X2 processors.

Here are the Intel and AMD processors used in new HP mainstream business notebook PCs:

Intel Core 2 Duo T9600 (2.8GHz, 6MB L2 cache, 1066MHz FSB)
Intel® Core 2 Duo T9400 (2.53GHz, 6MB L2 cache, 1066MHz FSB)
Intel® Core 2 Duo P8600 (2.4GHz, 3MB L2 cache, 1066MHz FSB)
Intel® Core 2 Duo P8400 (2.26GHz, 3MB L2 cache, 1066MHz FSB)

AMD Turion X2 Ultra Dual-Core ZM-82 (2.2GHz, 2MB L2 cache)
AMD Turion X2 Ultra Dual-Core ZM-80 (2.1GHz, 2MB L2 cache)
AMD Turion X2 Dual-Core RM-70 (2GHz, 1MB L2 cache)
AMD Athlon X2 Dual-Core QL-60 (1.9GHz, 1MB L2 cache)
AMD Sempron SI-40 (2GHz, 512KB L2 cache)