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AMD boosts low-power Athlon

The chipmaker bumps up the performance of its Athlon XP-M chip for lightweight notebooks as the race with Intel continues.

Advanced Micro Devices on Wednesday bumped up the performance of its Athlon XP-M chip for lightweight notebooks.

The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based chipmaker introduced the energy-saving Athlon XP-M 2100+ processor for notebooks such as Fujitsu's 4-pound LifeBook S2000.

AMD sells three varieties of Athlon XP-M chips for notebooks: low-power or energy-saving, high-performance, and "mainstream."

The energy-saving version of the Athlon XP-M, for example, is designed to consume the least electricity of the three and thus produce less heat. This makes the chip more suitable for the tight space inside a lightweight notebook. Lower-power components, such as the processor, also allow notebook makers to use smaller batteries, which helps cut the weight of the laptop.

AMD's new chip helps the company compete with rival Intel's Pentium M processor. The fastest Pentium M runs at 1.4GHz to 1.7GHz.

The energy-saving Athlon XP-M 2100+, which lists for a price of $97, joins AMD's processor lineup above the low-power Athlon XP-M 2000+. According to technical documentation posted on AMD's Web site, the 2100+ model runs at a clock speed of 1.6GHz, versus the 2000+ model's 1.53GHz.

Fujitsu's LifeBook S2000, upgraded with the new chip, starts at $1,199. At that price, the 1.4-inch thick notebook comes with a 13.3-inch display, 256MB of RAM, a 30GB hard drive, a CD-ROM and Microsoft's Windows XP Home Edition operating system, according to Fujitsu's Web site.

AMD's higher performance Athlon XP-M chips are designed for more sizeable laptops, and come in models up to 3000+.

The low-power chip trades off some performance for power savings, but the desktop replacement Athlon XP-M does not. Desktop replacement notebooks--which seek to match desktop PCs in performance, typically weigh 8-pounds or more, and come with 15-inch or larger screens--have been popular with consumers. The mainstream Athlon XP-M occupies the area between the two categories, and comes in models up to 2600+.

AMD makes similar distinctions with its mobile Athlon 64 processors, although AMD has said it does not plan to launch a low-power version of the mobile Athlon 64 until later this year.