Dell Unveils New AMD Desktops

The Dimension C521 and the E521 can be configured with an AMD Sempron processor, an AMD Athlon 64 processor or an AMD Athlon 64 X 2 dual-core processor, according to Dell. The Round Rock, Texas-based PC giant said the AMD desktops will have starting prices of $329 and $359, respectively -- less than half the price of the new Dimension E20 desktop ($719), which has an Intel Pentium D or an Intel Core 2 Duo processor.

"More and more customers are asking for AMD-based products," Dell Chairman Michael Dell said Tuesday in an invitation-only meeting with press that also was webcast. "AMD has demonstrated an ability to deliver great technology that customers want today and in the future. And AMD meets the requirements Dell has for being a partner -- of capacity and quality."

The AMD-based Dimension highlighted Dell's Tech Day conference in New York and comes after a years-long, exclusive relationship between the PC maker and chip giant Intel.

Industry analysts believe -- and Dell executives have hinted -- that the company's move to an AMD-based product line led to Intel to end its longstanding, deep processor discounts for Dell. Asked how big of a percentage of AMD products Dell expects to eventually include in its product lineup, Dell balked, saying only, "greater than zero and less than 100."

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Dell as a company also is trying to portray the AMD move as an example of its ability to make radical changes to keep up with a changing market. For years, Michael Dell and other company executives brushed off suggestions of using AMD processors in Dell systems by saying that Intel products were better and AMD couldn't meet its needs.

The AMD announcement also comes during a week in which Dell disclosed that prosecutors have begun investigating its financial reporting, which followed similar probes by federal regulators and the Dell board's audit committee.

Also on Tuesday, Michael Dell defended CEO Kevin Rollins in response to questions about industry speculation that was time for Rollins to leave his post. Later in the day, Dell said the company could be expected to add senior management in critical positions.

"When one thinks about our company in terms of services and design and some of the new elements, you could certainly expect we will add substantially to our management capability," Dell said.

"In the past two years, Dell has added a little over 19,000 people into the company," he added. "We'll continue to evolve and grow our management commensurate with new capabilities."