Chip Wars Renewed?

Ben In recent years, AMD has struggled to remain relevant in the commercial PC as it has competed against Intel, the market share leader and gold-standard in processor performance. Today, companies often only choose AMD for its lower initial acquisition costs — which run approximately $50 to $75 cheaper than Intel’s, although you’re sacrificing performance to get there. This approach of narrowly undercutting Intel has not worked well for AMD, as it has now seen six straight quarters of net loss.

On Monday, however, AMD announced a major new initiative it calls AMD Business Class — a renewed effort to better compete in the commercial segment across both desktops and laptops. Targeting SMBs, the public sector, and large enterprises, AMD Business Class is its renewed focus on a historically weaker area than the consumer market. Initially, AMD is touting the availability of three new AMD-powered desktops: HP’s dc5850 and dx2450, Fujitsu Siemens Computers’ Esprimo E/P5625, and a refresh of Dell’s OptiPlex 740. The new processors are available in Athlon X2 dual-, Phenom X3 triple-, and Phenom X4 quad-cores and will try to keep pace with Intel’s Green IT initiatives with Energy Star 4.0 compliance.

AMD claims that the new processors will help minimize IT disruption through longer PC lifecycles, greater cross-generation compatibility, and a guarantee that this hardware will be available for the next 24 months as part of AMD's CSIP stable image program.  What is the net-net for IT Ops professionals? AMD now has a lower-cost alternative to Intel’s Stable Image Platform Program (SIPP), but with more processor options (Intel’s SIPP processor options are limited to Core2 Duo processors and Core2 Quad processors). So when IT Ops is told to cut spending, AMD Business Class is worth investigating.

This announcement is just a forerunner to the real excitement around AMD’s upcoming mobile chipset, codenamed Puma, which is scheduled to ship at the close of this quarter. Puma, which is built on the Griffin processor, will be the first big challenger to the Intel Centrino mobile processor. Stay tuned as things will likely get more interesting between Intel and AMD, which will benefit businesses that clearly demand more competition and innovation from their component manufacturers.

By Benjamin Gray

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