The Evangelist

Worldwide Technology News

The War Is On

If you have been following this blog or technology news in general, you probably remember reading that AMD was not planning on competing with Intel's Atom because they perceived the market to be very small. Even whilst this statement was being made, Intel was making a killing off of all of the netbooks being sold with Intel Atom processors.

It came as no surprise, then, when AMD decided that they wanted a slice of the pie (as mentioned in Meet The Atom's Competition). AMD had said that their new processor, now known as the Athlon Neo (formerly known by its codename Huron), would target the market for portables primarily between netbooks and laptops. This seemed a tad odd, considering the fact that most people who are in the market for a netbook only want a small secondary machine that does the basics and surfs the internet, and all for a fairly low price. They can't to do as much as notebooks, but they aren't meant to; it seems as if AMD is missing this. The Neo is meant to have more power, but this will only result in a larger end product, which basically contradicts the original idea behind the netbook in the first place. Sure, they probably have a niche market in those who want a decent amount of power in a smaller package at a reasonable price. But this market is small; for those who really need power in an ultraportable package there are products like the Macbook Air, although the Air has a far more considerable price tag.

The first 'notebook' to contain the Neo will be the HP Pavilion dv2, which will feature a 12.1" screen, hard drive capacity of up to 500GB, up to 4GB of RAM, the option of ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3410 discrete graphics (which makes it seem similar to the Atom-equipped Asus N10 with the GeForce 9300M Graphics Processing Unit), an expresscard slot, and an optional external Blu-Ray drive with an Athlon Neo MV-40 processor at the heart of the operation. The projected base price is $699, and it is due to be released this April. The Neo MV-40 is, unlike the Atom (which is currently based on a 45nm process), based on a 65nm process, which is no different than AMD's current processors, so these processors will run hotter than the Atom and draw more power, resulting in lower battery life (due to the 34W thermal envelope). It is single-core, has a clock of 1.60GHz, 512KB of L2 cache, and 64-bit support (which the Atom does not have). The laptop will also use the AMD Yukon platform. As far as size, the notebook will weigh just 3.8 pounds for a standard configuration and be only .93 inches thick. While this means that the Pavilion dv2 will be very small for a standard laptop, it is by no means as portable as the typical netbook.

AMD has revealed that they have plans to release dual-core Neo processors as part of their future Congo platform. It is clear from benchmarks that AMD's Athlon Neo is more powerful than the single-core Intel Atom in most cases and the dual-core Atom in some cases. When a dual-core Neo chip comes out it will probably beat out the Atom as well.

What will be really interesting to see is whether or not Intel takes this threat seriously. An article over at Cnet suggests that they may be cooking up a response to the Neo for the same target market based on the Core architecture. If they are, these processors would have less power than ULV Core 2 Duo processors which are used in expensive ultraportables and the Intel Atom, which is exactly the same market that the Neo is targeting. At any rate, I am sure that Intel will not stand still.

There is one final thing to consider when it comes to the Athlon Neo. Current economic conditions may actually help with Neo become sucessful. When it comes time for people to but a new notebook, current economic conditions will likely dictate that they purchase on a budget. At the same time, these people will be looking not for a netbook but for a regular laptop that can run all of their programs (and perhaps some games). This is where the Neo can possibly thrive. A number of factors will have to be met in order for this to happen, however. First, the manufacturers will have to be willing to take a risk in manufacturing these notebooks. Second, they stores will have to be willing to take a risk in carrying them. Then, finally, you have all of the factors that will contribute to people actually buying them, such as marketing materials and the attitude of those who work at the stores that sell the notebooks toward notebooks based on Neo processors.

At any rate, even if AMD and Intel aren't competing in the exact same market, they are competing in two close degrees of a larger market. If AMD hits the right spot in the market and the conditions are right, they could be quite sucessful with the Neo. On the other hand, if they are unlucky, their ranges of different products aimed at this small market will only serve to confuse and frustrate consumers. I really do want to see AMD succeed. They just have to be very careful, because every time they do come up with a sucessful product, Intel is a step behind with its massive Research and Development machine. And if one thing is for certain, it's that AMD has far more to loose than Intel.


There is a slight problem with ADM processors...they are a little unstable when it comes to installing printer, drivers and 3rd party drivers. Also, some software cannot cope with 64-Bit processor...

I don't know why. But, its a little scary!

lair360, are you sure you're talking about the same CPU as the one in the article? BTW just to be sure we're on the same page, the piece is about a new processor called Neo, which is set to fight the useless Atom line from Intel. And you mentioned "ADM"... Is that short for Adam? It can't be AMD because I'm on my 3rd AMD set to date and I've yet to come across any driver issues. Might help your argument if you'd provided specifics of your driver. Anyway next time you run into any problem with your Adam--if that's the name of your CPU-- just dial your tech support line. Quit being scared, it's counter productive.

Post a Comment

Thank you for your comments.