System builders may hear siren song of AMD’s Sempron

Canadian whitebox builders could be lured to add systems designed around AMD Inc.’s new Sempron family of value-priced processors, says an industry analyst.

“”AMD has got tremendous room to grow,”” said Michelle Warren of Evans Research, “”and with the introduction of these chips, combined with

a marketing push, it may be able to get those processors to manufacturers.

“”They’ve introduced compelling reasons for assemblers to switch to AMD,”” she added, including good performing CPUs that focus on the consumer market.

Sempron processors are aimed at Intel Corp.’s Celeron line. Seven desktop versions are available now in various speeds, with five mobile versions for notebooks scheduled to be released later this month.

Brand-name manufacturers such as Acer are expected to be shipping systems in September.

AMD’s Celeron-fighter had been the Duron processor, but the company has been phasing it out in North America as it concentrated on its Athlon XP and Athlon 64 lines.

Evans estimates that in the first quarter of this year AMD processors were in 29.5 per cent of the PCs shipped by white box builders (including desktops, notebooks and servers) compared to 70 per cent for Intel.

Now, however, it’s getting back into the consumer market with Semprons.

“”They’re doing it at the right time for the back-to-school and Christmas shopping season,”” observed Warren.

Among the larger AMD system builders here is Seanix Technology Inc. of Richmond, B.C. A company spokesman couldn’t be reached for comment.

AMD is enthusiastic about the new processors. John Crank, the company’s Athlon 64 product manger said Sempron “”is competitively priced and is going to offer significantly better performance than Celeron product.””

“”It allows system builders and larger multinationals to put together richer configurations for any given price-point,”” said, letting them throw in a better optical drive or peripherals such as a monitor or printer with a system.

Such statements failed to shake Doug Cooper, country manager for Intel Canada, who noted his company has introduced new Celeron-D and -M CPUs for the desktop and mobile markets.

“”Our view is consumers are going to purchase based on the overall value of the platform – the chipset, wireless components, and the CPU. Intel is working to increase the value of that platform in our premium brands in Pentium on the desktop and Centrino in laptops, and you’ll see us continue to do that in the value segment.””

“”I don’t think the competitive landscape has changed that much,”” he added. “”Intel’s focus has shifted to a more comprehensive view of the market. We spend as much time now talking about the overall platform as individual CPUs. You look at the announcements we made recently – the chipset announcement, we’ve added 7.1 surround sound, matrix storage, better 3-D graphics – all of those build on the Pentium brand for multitasking. It’s Intel’s view that those as important to the value delivered both to the channel and to business as the CPU performance.””

Rich Black, public relations manager for Acer America in San Jose, Calif., said it’s too early to say what products the company will initially put Semprons in. But he Acer is looking forward to giving buyers more choice in the value segment of the PC market.

Sempron “”is allowing us to expand our portfolio by offering more options to consumers,”” he said.

“”It will allow us to offer a nice system at a very attractive price-point.

“”A lot of consumers are going to like the lower wattage the (mobile) Sempron includes, which will allow a little longer battery life, run a little bit cooler.””

Acer has only one product in that area, the recently-released Aspire 1350 notebook, using an Athlon XP-M processor.

A Hewlett-Packard spokesman said Sempron-based HP Pavillion and Compaq Presarios will be released.

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Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer. Former editor of and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, Howard has written for several of ITWC's sister publications, including Before arriving at ITWC he served as a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times.

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