AMD unveils Centrino spoiler

Chip maker hopes Turion 64 will boost its mobile market share

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AMD launched a new line of 64-bit mobile microprocessors last week, though details of the product line remain few and far between.

The product, dubbed Turion 64, marks the latest in a long line of daft brand names, not only from AMD, but from plenty of other chip makers too. Quite what it conveys is anyone's guess, but AMD hopes punters will read performance, reliability and long battery life into the name.

Certainly that's what it's supposed to suggest, along with "outstanding wireless compatibility, rich graphics and enhanced security", the company said.

Turion presumably marks the first fruit of AMD's foundation last June of a Japan-based chip design taskforce dedicated with building better mobile processors.

At this stage it's unclear what Turion does that AMD's Mobile Athlon 64 processors, some developed for thin'n'light notebooks, others for more mainstream machines, don't. Presumably, we're looking at improved power management and possibly greater integration - perhaps a graphics engine built into the on-die North Bridge.

Or - and this is more likely - they may simply be rebranded Mobile Athlon 64s, with a new name calculated to compete more effectively with Intel's Centrino. Opteron may be winning AMD server and workstation market share, but the company hasn't fared so well in the mobile arena. But while Centrino encompasses not only the processor but also the chipset and Wi-Fi functionality, Turion remains just a chip brand.

Indeed, the launch was more about spoiling the upcoming debut of 'Sonoma', Intel's second-generation Centrino offering, than shipping a new CPU.

So far, AMD hasn't said which if any notebook makers have committed themselves to offering Turion-based products. The chips themselves will ship during H1 2005, with more details coming when OEMs announce kit based upon them, AMD said. ®

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