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AMD issues fresh, bracing Cebit roadmap

Europe means a lot to Chimpzilla

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Analysis Chip contender AMD has issued a fresh roadmap to coincide with its introduction of its 1.3 and 1.33GHz Athlons earlier today.

At Cebit, it also demonstrated dual Athlon systems and a 1.5GHz chip with a core named after a breed of horse dubbed Palomino.

The 30 page document claim AMD is still on target for its Morgan and Palomino processors, which will be ready in Q2 onwards, although to us it seems there is a bit of a slippage.

The "slippage" could, however, be an attempt by AMD to maximise its profits. Its Athlons are undercutting Intel offerings, it appears to be gaining market share, and, as we reported here a couple of weeks ago, the Athlon 1.3GHz will drop in price as early as May. It simply may not need to launch the Palomino yet.

Palomino desktop cores, the roadmap says, will arrive in quantity in Q3 of this year. The Hammer and Appaloosa stuff comes next year. Appaloosa is a shrink of the Duron-Morgan core.*

But it is AMD's chipset strategy, which is the potential Achilles' Heel in its strategy. It is perfectly capable of producing solid, well performing chipsets by itself, but has shown a marked reluctance to commit to staying in that market and seems, to us at least, to be placing undue reliance on third party companies to support its processors.

For example, we know that some of the Taiwanese motherboard vendors which have helped the Athlon gain the market share it has in Europe and in Asia, have been pointed towards future chipset support from firms such as Via.

Via, as it competes with AMD in the microprocessor market, certainly the low end and especially in emerging markets like India and China, is not particularly interested in giving it a hand up. Via has other fish to fry and Jerry Sanders' and Hector's firm are not the first of CEO Wen Chi Chen's priorities.

AMD is evidently conscious of the fact that Intel will not sit on its haunches and let the smaller competitor run away with its profits, whether it be in the consumer or at the low end of the business market.

We will return to this subject later in the week -- Intel appears to have a rather powerful combination of Tualatin technology and DDR memory up its sleeve for Q3/Q4.

Meanwhile, and on the subject of busta blood vessel firm Rambus, it appears that AMD is firmly on the track of double data rate (DDR) memory.

Dataquest's barely noticed volte face last week on the subject of market share of the disputing memory technologies suggested that Rambus is unlikely to ship the quantities it was predicting even one year back.

AMD has chosen Cebit in Germany to launch these technologies because the European market is highly important to its strategy. There seems to be a greater willingness in Europe to adopt non-Intel technologies and the channels to market are also much more diverse than in the USA.

AMD will have quite a job on its hands to grab significant shares of the notebook and server market, certainly in the next nine months or so. And it should take care it doesn't lose the plot on the chipset front - Intel knows how much that can hurt. ®

* For non-technical readers, in the jargon of chip manufacturers, a shrink is not someone who listens to your psychological woes but a technique for making the chip smaller, cooler and hopefully faster.

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