AMD launches mobile Athlon XP

update The chipmaker releases its new mobile Athlon XP processor, a new generation of 130-nanometer mobile chips based on its newest processor core known as Thoroughbred.

John G. Spooner Staff Writer, CNET News.com
John Spooner
covers the PC market, chips and automotive technology.
John G. Spooner
3 min read
update Advanced Micro Devices on Wednesday added a new Thoroughbred to its stable of PC processors.

The chipmaker launched its line of new Mobile Athlon XP processors, a new generation of 130-nanometer mobile chips based on its newest processor core, called Thoroughbred.

The new core adopts AMD's 130-nanometer manufacturing process, which will allow the company to increase the chips' clock speed, reduce power consumption and add other performance enhancers.

AMD chose to tap Thoroughbred first for notebooks because the chip core consumes less power. The chip also has a higher bus speed than the previous Athlon processor, the Athlon 4, allowing for more data to be shuttled between the chip and RAM. The new chip ups the bus speed by 66MHz to 266MHz; a version with a 200MHz bus will also be available.

The new chips will consume about 2 watts of power running typical office applications, which is slightly less than the Athlon 4 offering, AMD said.

"We believe this core will enable us to enter the thin and light (notebook) market," said a company representative. The representative also said AMD is shipping in small numbers to its customers a low-power version of the chip that comes in a smaller package more suited for thin and light notebooks, which generally weigh 4 pounds or less.

The new chips, which officially take on the new Mobile Athlon XP name, shed the Athlon 4 designation of AMD's previous generation of mobile processors. AMD said the chips will replace Athlon 4 models up to the recently announced 1600+ and match or outperform rival Intel's new crop of Pentium 4-M notebook chips based on its Pentium 4 processor.

The new Athlon XP 1400+ and 1500+ chips are available now. Athlon XP 1600+ and 1700+ models will follow later this quarter, AMD said.

An AMD representative said the 1400+ chip will run at 1.2GHz; the 1500+ will run at 1.3GHz and 1.33GHz; the 1600+ at 1.4GHz; and the 1700+ at 1.47GHz. All of the chips except the 1700+ will come with either a 200MHz or 266MHz bus; the 1700+ will offer a 266MHz bus only.

While companies such as Compaq Computer, Hewlett-Packard and Sony offer the Mobile Athlon 4 in their consumer-oriented notebooks, it appears that the newest Mobile Athlon XP chips will be available first from notebook makers outside of the United States. Sharp, for example, will offer a 1400+ chip in its Mebuis notebook line in Japan. Packard Bell and Epson Direct will offer models elsewhere.

AMD did not say when the chip would hit the United States. But it's likely to appear when manufacturers refresh current products.

AMD's 2002 plans will hinge on Thoroughbred. The core will be important for the chipmaker's plans to expand market share in notebooks. But it will also allow AMD to boost speeds on desktop computers.

The chip's smaller size, covering only 80 square millimeters, will allow AMD to produce more chips at a lower cost at its Dresden, Germany, manufacturing plant.

AMD is expected to transition to the core for its next desktop Athlon XP chip as well. That chip, an Athlon XP 2200+, is expected to debut fairly soon at around 1.8GHz.

Cuts for other lines
AMD also announced price cuts on Wednesday.

It held the line on mobile chip prices, but reduced list prices of its desktop and server Athlon chips by as much as much as 28 percent.

AMD slashed the price of its Athlon XP 2100+ by 21 percent from $420 to $330. It cut the price of the 2000+ model by 17 percent; it is now priced at $280. It also dropped the prices on its 1900+ and 1800+ by 5 and 4 percent, respectively, to $220 and $180. The remaining Athlon XPs desktop chip prices stay the same.

AMD also took a healthy bite out of its desktop Duron prices. It dropped the price of its 1.3GHz Duron 18 percent from $103 to $84. The 1.2GHz Duron went from $89 to $79, an 11 percent drop. The company also shaved 7 percent from the price of its 1.1GHz and 1GHz Duron chips, which will now list for $69 and $64, respectively.

AMD also cut prices on its Athlon MP server chips. The Athlon MP 2000+ saw the biggest price drop, a 28 percent reduction from $415 to $299. Its other Athlon MP chips were reduced by between 24 and 13 percent.