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AMD's new playing field: China

No. 2 chipmaker eyes world's most populous nation, and other emerging markets, to bolster its marketplace position.

Advanced Micro Devices is looking to grab a bigger share of emerging markets in its fight to gain a stronger foothold against archrival Intel.

Key players in the chipmaker's growth are Chinese PC makers such as Lenovo and Founder Group, according to Gustavo Arenas, corporate vice president and managing director of AMD in emerging markets. Both hardware vendors recently introduced PCs and notebooks based on AMD processors.

Still, it's up against a formidable opponent in Intel, which dominates the processor market. In the third quarter, AMD accounted for only about a quarter of overall x86 processor shipments.

"(Intel) still has a stronghold in many regions of the world, and we need to make sure that we can provide the technology to give people choice," Arenas said last month.

To raise its global market share, Arenas said, AMD is focused on "high growth" markets from South Asia to Eastern Europe.

Already the world's second-largest PC market, China is a key driver of growth in the Asia-Pacific region as well as the global market, according to analyst house IDC. But development patterns within China are very diverse, IDC noted.

Buying patterns in the more developed eastern region, for instance, should not be expected to recur in the remote western parts of the country. "The eastern parts of China have been growing rapidly and have done quite well, compared to the western region of the country," Arenas said.

According to IDC, AMD held a market share of 18 percent in China last year.

"Even though there are common denominators in each of the emerging markets, they are not all the same, by any means," Arenas said. "But still, AMD could become much stronger by looking at what are some of the product and resource requirements in those regions."

For instance, AMD is supplying processors in MIT's One Laptop per Child initiative. In 2004, the company also started a program to develop new technology that will bring affordable Internet access and computing capability to 50 percent of the world's population by 2015, Arenas said.

Aaron Tan of ZDNet Asia reported from Singapore.