AMD Looks for Edge Against Intel
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New Phenom line, including three-core chip, boosts AMD's competitive offerings.
Advanced Micro Devices on Wednesday unveiled new microprocessors for the desktop personal computer market, in a move that could sharpen its competitive edge against rival Intel.
Among the chips in AMD's Phenom family of processors is one that has three cores, or electronics brains, compared with the two or four most generally available. AMD said that its Phenom X3 has as much as a 30 percent performance improvement in some instances compared to a dual-core chip operating at the same frequency.
AMD first disclosed plans to make the Phenom X3 in 2007, saying then that it was able to build a three-core chip because the brains are on the same piece of silicon, rather than two or four cores on different pieces of silicon joined together.
The company had a difficult 2007 as its full-year loss swelled to $3.38 billion from a net loss of $166 million in 2006. Partly to blame was a design problem with its Barcelona server chip that AMD said was key to regaining its competitive edge against Intel.
The processors announced on Wednesday are aimed principally at the mainstream PC market, but also include a high-end Phenom Black Edition chip that video gamers can easily speed up themselves, a process known as overclocking, an analyst said.
"AMD is increasingly focused on the mainstream PC market and I think they will be quite competitive there," said analyst Rob Enderle of the Enderle Group.
AMD has improved its execution so far in 2008, said Patrick Moorhead, a marketing vice president at AMD, pointing to new graphics chips from ATI, a chipmaker it bought, and a new chipset that he said was receiving strong reviews.
"I think we're on a little bit of a roll here," Moorhead said. "2008 is a much better year for us."
He said the new processors from AMD are particularly well suited to applications like editing and watching high-definition video, multimedia and gaming.
PCs using the processors will be available later this week or next week, Moorhead said, and will be available online by late Wednesday.