AMD Debuts Turion Processor Targeted At Mobile PC Market

The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company is aiming the Turion 64 at the "thin and light" mobile processing space, positioning the 64-bit chip as one with better battery performance, including a 25-watt CPU for longer battery life.

The Turion 64 will come in several models and range in price from $189 to $354 in 1,000-unit orders. AMD said it has begun shipping the processors to OEMs and the North American system builder channel.

Unlike Intel, which offers a Centrino mobile platform that bundles a processor, wireless card and chipset into one package, AMD will ship only the processor and has forged partnerships with vendors that will supply the other components. Among other vendors that will supply technology supporting the platform are ULi, VIA, ATI and NVIDIA with graphic chipsets, Broadcom and Atheros with wireless cards, and Broadcom and Marvell with LAN support.

AMD executives say they believe their approach will provide system builders with the opportunity to add differentiated solutions based on system components they think are best. The company used a similar go-to-market approach with its Opteron product for 64-bit servers as well as its Athlon 64 chip for desktops.

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Even with the differentiation, and a processor that, unlike its competition, is a native, 64-bit chip, AMD may have an uphill battle in cutting into its rival's market position.

"I don't know if [the Turion 64] is going to be a threat or not," said Doug Phillips, vice president of technical services at Seneca Data Systems, a North Syracuse, N.Y.-based system builder. "Right now, you buy a laptop built on the AMD mobile [processor] and it works great. I think AMD needs to do a lot more marketing to put a dent in Intel.

"Intel has the mind share, and they do a good job of marketing and a great job of supporting their customers," Phillips said. Intel is believed to have a mobile market share of about 90 percent.

AMD's offering comes two months after Intel began shipping its Sonoma mobile platform, the second-generation of its Centrino-branded mobile systems. By early next year, Intel said it will begin shipping new mobile systems with a new processor, code-named Yonah, which is slated to be built on the company's forthcoming 65-nanometer manufacturing process.

Among the manufacturers that are expected to offer the first Turion-based mobile systems are Fujitsu Siemens, NEC Computers' Packard Bell consumer group and Acer, with the last planning to integrate the processors into its Ferrari-brand notebooks. While large, U.S.-based OEMs, including IBM and Hewlett-Packard, have integrated AMD's 64-bit processors into their desktop and server lineups, neither one has indicated they will move forward with a notebook based on AMD's new chip. Several OEMs in Europe said they will begin building and shipping Turion-based notebooks through their regional channels.

To eat into Intel's mind share and market share, AMD will seek to give OEMs a processing platform that focuses on "road warriors," said an executive with the company.

"We've optimized our manufacturing process in order to reduce the power consumption, to extend the battery life of the notebook," said Bahr Mahoney, AMD's mobile marketing manager. "We're partnering with leading companies across the ecosystem in order to develop a very robust, power-efficient system."

The chip manufacturers have begun displaying an aggressive strategy with the channel over the past year, as the share of whitebooks has steadily increased as both the best-selling and most-profitable brand of mobile PC listed by solution providers, according to monthly polling data from CRN Research.