AMD grabs fastest mobile spot with K6-III

AMD grabs fastest mobile spot with K6-III

Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) last week released its 380MHz K6-III-P mobile processor, which it claims is the fastest x86 mobile PC processor on the market. Also available in 366MHz and 350MHz versions, the AMD K6-III-P processor competes with Intel's mobile Pentium III and mobile Pentium II Dixon chips, AMD officials said.

Compaq is expected to ship a new line of Presario mobile Internet PCs powered by the K6-III-P chip later this quarter. In the US, the new AMD-based Compaq systems will be available at the company's "Built For You" retail kiosks as well as on its Web site, according to Alex Gruzen, general manager of Compaq's consumer mobile division.

The K6-III-P processor leverages AMD's TriLevel Cache design, sixth-generation micro-architecture, and a 100MHz front-side bus. By comparison, Intel's mobile PII Dixon chips feature a 66MHz front-side bus. AMD's K6-III-P also has double the L1 cache of Intel's fastest mobile Celeron and PII chips.

"With its bigger cache and higher clock speed, the mobile K6-III-P is extending the high-performance, sub-$2000 notebook space," said Martin Reynolds, a mobile computing analyst with market research firm Dataquest.

And the K6-III-P has the same footprint as the company's K6-2 mobile chip. "The mobile AMD K6-III-P is compatible with [our] existing Super7 platform infrastructure," said Martin Booth, product marketing manager for AMD's mobile processing division. Because AMD's new mobile chip is PIN-compatible with existing K6-2 notebooks, vendors won't have to invest in a new design, Booth said.

Figures prominently

Introduced earlier this year with the mobile K6-2 chips, AMD's 3DNow technology also figures prominently in the mobile K6-III-P design. 3DNow enhances 3D graphics, soft DVD playback, and speech recognition.

The mobile K6-III-P operates at a core voltage of 2.2 volts with an extended case temperature rating of 80 degrees Celsius compared to a 1.6 core voltage and 100 degree Celsius case temperature for Intel's latest 366MHz mobile Celeron. Intel uses Voltage Reduction technology to optimise performance at lower power levels.

"The only downside to AMD's new mobile chips is that the power meter is still a little high," Reynolds said.

"They are not suitable for ultra-thin and light mini-notebooks."

AMD has stepped up its efforts for notebook systems this year. The mobile K6-2 processor shipped in January, followed by faster 350MHz and 380MHz models in March.

Mobile K6-2 chips are available in Toshiba Satellite notebooks, Compaq Presario Internet notebooks, Compaq Prosignia Business notebooks, and IBM's Thinkpad iSeries.

So far this year, AMD has recouped a significant share of the US retail portable market. AMD's K6 mobile market share jumped from 27.1 per cent in January to 46.9 per cent in April, according to the latest PC Data Hardware Report.

By comparison, Intel dropped from 70.1 per cent to 47 per cent during the same four-month period.

But the retail market represents only a slice of the notebook pie. "The notebook retail market is quite specialised," Reynolds noted. "Most notebooks are sold through non-retail channels." AMD is doing well in the retail space relative to Intel because of its price-performance advantages, Reynolds added.

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