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AMD, others unveil new wares at Computex

Advanced Micro Devices and others choose the Taipei, Taiwan-based trade show to announce a bevy of products likely to appear in the coming months in the United States and Europe.

Advanced Micro Devices, ATI Technologies, Benq and other computing companies unveiled at Computex on Tuesday a bevy of new products that will likely begin to appear in the United States and Europe over the coming months.

Unlike Comdex or Germany's CeBit, which tend to focus on brand-name manufacturers, Taipei, Taiwan-based Computex generally serves as a showcase for component makers or contract manufacturers such as Quanta and Compal that make PCs and notebooks for the Dells and Hewlett-Packards of the world.

Taiwan remains one of the chief worldwide centers for contract manufacturing, and even though China is becoming a tech powerhouse, many of the exporting outlets in China are actually branches of Taiwanese companies.

Among the announcements:

• ATI released the Radeon X800, X600 and X300 graphics chips for PCs. The company remains locked in a fierce battle for market share and performance dominance in the graphics market. Nvidia was the more dominant company in the first part of the decade, but ATI has pulled closer in the past few years. The company also displaced Nvidia as Microsoft's partner on the next generation of the Xbox.

The new chips communicate with the processor through PCI Express, a high-speed data link that is replacing the AGP link. The change is made possible through Intel's Grantsdale chipset. Systems incorporating the chips will come out later this month. Several PC makers will also show off Grantsdale PCs at the show, while Intel will describe their performance.

• AMD said it will cooperate with Broadcom to develop chipsets for the Opteron processor. Broadcom entered the market for chipsets in 2001, when it bought ServerWorks, which specialized in Intel server chipsets. Product delays and newfound aggressiveness on the part of Intel have led to a recent decline in market share for ServerWorks.

Samples of these new chipsets will come out in the fall, the companies said.

• Benq, a consumer electronics company that spun out of the Acer empire, unveiled the Joybee 102 MP3 player. Weighing half an ounce, it's the world's smallest and lightest MP3 player, according to Benq. The company is also using the show to highlight recently released monitors, keyboards and DVD recorders.

• Transmeta said it has begun to produce samples of a 1.6GHz version of its Efficeon chip for notebooks and blade servers. Current Efficeons run at 1GHz and are made on the 130-nanometer process; the new version will be made on the 90-nanometer process.

Japan's Sharp has already committed to incorporating Efficeon in a notebook, Transmeta said. Sony, however, one of the early backers of Transmeta, is no longer manufacturing Transmeta-based notebooks, Transmeta said.

Meanwhile, contract manufacturers showed off a series of concept PCs at the show, according to British computing site The Inquirer, including one shaped like a drum.

The weeklong trade show has moved past Comdex to become the second-largest annual trade show by the number of exhibitors and floor space, according to its backers.