Dell: AMD A Distinct Possibility

After a keynote speech at CES in Las Vegas Thursday, Dell said it was "a distinct possibility" that his company would consider using AMD processors.

"What you see in these systems -- the real performance improvements come not so much from the CPU as the GPU," Dell said, adding that he believed Intel's latest processors themselves were impressive. Dell has consistently rebuffed the notion of using non-Intel processors.

In his keynote, Dell took a shot at gaming console makers, unveiling what he said was the world's fastest gaming PC -- with four graphics processors -- and touting his company's growth in the consumer market.

Dell said his company shipped 10 million PCs in the fourth quarter, and grew its consumer unit shipments from 1.2 million in 2000 to 6.8 million in 2005.

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During his speech, though, he offered a firm endorsement of the flexibility of the PC as a platform that is adapting to home needs faster than other technologies like gaming consoles.

"What's driving this growth is the ever-changing nature of the way people are using the PC," Dell said. The chairman of the Round Rock, Texas-based PC maker said his company's PC shipments in the last quarter numbered "five times the number of hard-drive based MP3 players…and 16 times the number of gaming consoles."

Earlier at CES, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates and Sony Chairman and CEO Howard Stringer both touted their company's gaming consoles -- the Xbox 360 and the forthcoming PlayStation 3 -- in demonstrations that were generally well-received by CES attendees.

In talking up Dell's performance in the consumer market, Dell was working to erase the memory of the company's third-quarter performance in which its consumer business in the U.S. was said to be a drag. He was also setting the stage to announce Dell's new gaming PC, the XPS 600 Renegade, what he said was a "limited edition" model with NVIDIA quad SLI GPU system.

Dell's appearance at CES was one of the later-announced keynote speeches, and was made while the company was explaining its third-quarter financial results that disappointed many on Wall Street and fell short of growth expectations.

"We're talking about a system that is four times faster than the fastest system out there," said Dell, who was joined on stage for his speech by Jen-Hsun Huang, CEO of NVIDIA.

"If Michael already has 2 GPUs in an XPS, how do we take that to the next level?" Huang asked. "We said, 'Self, what's better?' We said 4 GPUs." The system was also built with a factory-over-clocked 4.26 GHz, dual core Pentium desktop processor.

Pricing on the XPS Renegade, which will ship later in the year, was not immediately available.

In addition, Dell announced:

• The Inspiron E1705 Dual-Core 17-inch Widescreen Entertainment Notebook, based on Intel's new Intel Core Duo processor, priced at $2,299;

• A new service, called TechConnect, where Dell service representatives can remotely take control of a customer's broken computer and, via broadband connection, troubleshoot and fix a variety of glitches and issues.

• A new 30-inch flat-panel monitor, the Dell Widescreen UltraSharp 3007WFP flat-panel LCD, with tilt and swivel capabilities, with a list entry price of $2,199.

• XPS mobile console, the first notebook with a 20-inch wide screen display panel, including eight speakers with a sub-woofer, integrated slim, slot-load DVD and detachable keyboard. It was described as a "concept" notebook with 10 patents, but no date for availability was released.

"With notebooks, of course, you can take it all with you," Dell said.