AMD Launches Four Validated Solutions For 690G Chipset

The Sunnyvale, Calif., chip maker on Monday plans to unveil four new AMD Validated Solutions (AVS) based on its AMD 690G series chipset, which is optimized for handling high-end 3D graphics and the Aero user interface of Microsoft's Windows Vista Premium and Vista Business operating systems.

The 690G chipset, announced late last month, is the first AMD product to ship with ATI Radeon X1250 graphics since AMD closed its acquisition of ATI last fall. AMD announced two flavors of that chipset, the G and the V.

Asus, EliteGroup, MSI and new partner Gigabyte Technology have begun shipping the four new AMD Validated Solutions motherboards.

AMD introduced its updated Validated Solutions initiative last October to better serve the needs of its channel partners. The first four AVS motherboards that shipped last fall use CSIP chipsets from ATI and Nvidia.

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The four AVS motherboards introduced Monday are all based on ATI 690G chipsets, although company executives said they are working with Nvidia on similar solutions.

"We specifically chose the 690G-based boards that have commercial attributes so we can give the channel a strong offering," said Ron Myers, divisional manager of AMD Validated Solutions, Austin, Texas. "It's the first digital output built into boards, which means you can build systems with double monitors."

Myers said dual monitor support is ideal for Microsoft's Vista and Office 2007 because it enables corporate customers to create a PowerPoint 2007 presentation using one monitor and display it on another monitor.

Such capabilities will allow system builders to differentiate their products from those of top-tier OEMs, AMD partners said.

"[The 690] G can support dual displays, and that whole positioning around business is a great opportunity for the channel," said Joe Toste, vice president of marketing at Equus Computer Systems, Minneapolis. "It's easier to sell dual display into the commercial world because you can do e-mail on one screen and have another application running on another screen."

AMD's AVS program consolidates two previously separate programs: the Commercial Stable Image Program (CSIP) for desktops and the Validated Server programs for server boards.

AVS gives partners a new level of service and support, including a 15-month stability guarantee, 48-hour motherboard return service, telephone technical support and access to a 24x7 partner support site.

Getting more traction in the channel could give AMD a lift. The company has lost market share to rival Intel and faces two disappointing financial quarters after failing to provide enough inventory for its channel partners.

In spite of that slipup, AMD launched several initiatives and programs to generate even more steam in the channel. AMD has also pledged to ensure that its channel partners aren't left high and dry and without supply again.

AMD Validated Solutions was announced last fall. In January, the chip maker announced the development of an open specification dubbed DTX that's designed to promote small form factor PC design. The company is making a review copy of the spec available this quarter.

Waltham, Mass.-based AMD partner Source Code Corp. has been shipping AVS motherboards and plans to embrace the new solutions as well.

"I think this is a great program and will help level the support field that AMD faces against Intel. For years now, we have been asking AMD to help out more with platform solutions and increase warranty support. This program directly tackles those requests," said Brian Corn, vice president of marketing at Source Code. "AMD is now going to be able to offer the same level of Commercial Desktop support that Intel current offers its ICPP program members."

At least one partner is somewhat skeptical about AVS. David Stinner, president of US itek group, an MSP and system builder in Kenmore, N.Y., said he soured on AMD after the company abruptly discontinued a motherboard shortly after he had designed a system based on it.

Though Stinner said he isn't counting AMD out of the game, he thinks AVS must gain some credibility and market traction before the channel will widely embrace it.

"It's a good idea, but I don't think it's going to work right away. It will take them some time," Stinner said. "One of the troubles with those things is that it is unclear when the 15 months starts. Often, my distributor won't have it for six months. And then by the time I ramp up, another two months has gone by, and then it's in short supply or they've switched to a new one. "