AMD eyes Intel, Windows 7 with $99 chip

Advanced Micro Devices will try to inject some vigor into the lackluster desktop PC market with the first $99 quad-core processor.

Brooke Crothers Former CNET contributor
Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.
Brooke Crothers
2 min read

Advanced Micro Devices will try to inject new life into the lackluster desktop PC market with the first sub-$100 quad-core processor aimed at Windows 7--and Intel.

It's all about mobile computing today. But AMD's Athlon II X4 quad-core processor will give consumers something to consider on the desktop when Windows 7 ships in October. The chip is priced at $99 for "system builders," according to AMD.

"The introduction of the new AMD mainstream desktop platform coupled with Windows 7, allows...a faster, higher performing experience at an attractive price point," said Mike Ybarra, general manager of Windows Product Management at Microsoft, in a statement.

Some reviewers were quick to praise the chip. "It's often hard to get excited about low-end and mainstream hardware," wrote technology Web site Hot Hardware on Wednesday. "However, AMD's new quad-core Athlon II X4 processors are something we can definitely get excited about."

AMD is trying to create some buzz for Windows 7 desktop PCs
AMD is trying to create some buzz for Windows 7 desktop PCs AMD

"AMD didn't just deliver on price, they also managed to produce quite a competitive product that was able to keep up with more expensive processors like Intel's Q8200 and AMD's own Phenom IIs," the review said. The closest competing quad-processor from Intel is the Core 2 Quad Q8200, priced at around $150 at resellers.

Other reviews, however, were more Tepid. "The Athlon II X4 620 is just $20 cheaper than the Phenom II X3 (triple core)...in terms of performance the triple-core chip will likely be faster than the Athlon II X4 620 in most cases, as it is also clocked 200MHz higher," TechSpot wrote.

Beyond price, AMD is also claiming energy efficiency, saying that the use of the latest 45-nanometer manufacturing process allows it to draw less power than a standard 75-watt light bulb. Until this year, AMD had been building its processor on a 65-nanometer process. Typically, the smaller the geometries of a chip, the faster and more power efficient it is.

The quad-core processor is used in combination with the 785G chipset, which integrates ATI Radeon HD 4200 graphics silicon. The pricing of the chipset is separate from the processor.

Pricing for consumer-ready systems based on the Athlon II X4 processor were not immediately available.

ZT Systems will be selling systems later this month through Sears.com and Buy.com that are expected to be priced around $500, according to AMD spokesman Matt Davis. Other resellers, such as iBuypower and CyberPower, are also expected to bring out systems.