AMD boosts notebook chip but may lose customer

AMD boosts notebook chip but may lose customer

Advanced Micro Devices yesterday released a 450MHz version of its mobile K6-III processor, which it claims is the highest-performance chip of its kind on the market. The news was tempered by reports that Gateway plans to stop using AMD's chips in its PCs.

The new AMD processor will be available in a Prosignia 150 notebook from Compaq Computer later this month, the companies said. AMD also launched the product at 433MHz and 400MHz.

Intel's current fastest processor for notebooks is a mobile Pentium II running at 400MHz. Clock speed is only one measure of processor performance, but AMD said other features in the K6-III, including a faster memory bus and larger on-chip cache, make it faster than a mobile Pentium II. AMD released results from a handful of benchmark tests to back up its claim.

Meanwhile, Gateway declined to comment on a report in the Wall Street Journal that it plans to stop using AMD chips after it refreshes its current PC lineup. Gateway began using AMD's chips in February, and offers them in its Select and Profile desktop PCs.

"Gateway has been a good customer and we will continue to compete for their business," AMD spokesman Scott Allen said, declining to comment further.

The report in the Journal, which cites unnamed sources "close to the matter", said Gateway's decision to drop AMD reflects renewed gains Intel has made in the price-sensitive consumer market. Intel has been aggressively cutting prices in the past year on its notebook and desktop processors.

Intel's chips were used in 56 per cent of PCs sold in the US retail market in July, up from less than 38 per cent in February, the Journal said, citing research firm PC Data of Virginia. In the same period, AMD's share dropped from 52 per cent to 30 per cent, the Journal said.

Also yesterday, AMD increased the speed of its K6-2 mobile processors, which are aimed at lower-cost PCs. The K6-II is now available at 475MHz, 450MHz and 433MHz.

Prices for the new chips, in bulk orders of 1000, are as follows: The mobile K6-III at 450MHz is priced at $US320, the 433MHz version is priced at $283, and the 400MHz at $246. The mobile K6-2 at 475MHz is priced at $US209, the 450MHz version is priced at $189, and the 433MHz is priced at $159, AMD said.

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