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AMD targets Puma 'Centrino beater' at consumers, SMEs

Laptop platform gets teeth into HD

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AMD launched its long-awaited Puma laptop platform this morning into an unexpectedly open market after Intel was forced to delay its refreshed Centrino 2 platform.

Puma is built around AMD's Turion X2 Ultra Dual-Core Mobile processor but the vendor has put HD at the centre of its pitch. Puma features integrated ATI Radeon HD 3200 Graphics and supports DirextX10. It will also offer other discrete ATI Radeon graphics set-ups. Part of the pitch is its ability to run both the built-in and discrete graphics set-ups in tandem.

Power management comes courtesy of AMD Enhanced PowerNow Technology and ATI PowerXpress Technology. The main chip will shut down individual components to save power, while the graphics power technology will, for example, shut down discrete graphics when running on battery power, and kick it back in when the laptop is plugged in to the wall.

Perhaps more to the point, AMD claimed that systems were available from OEMs right now, giving it the opportunity - if it can grasp it – to exploit the gap left open by Intel’s Centrino 2 fumble.

Intel admitted last week that problems with both the chipset for Centrino 2, AKA 'Montevina', and with the wireless platform’s antennae has forced it to postpone shipments of the processor until August at the earliest.

It’s fair to expect that AMD would be doing its utmost to benefit from Chipzilla’s current misfortune, perhaps by punting the Puma platform, at business customers.

But, according to the company’s EMEA product and platform marketing manager Ian McNaughton, enterprise customers only account for 20 per cent of the market. He reckoned that focusing on small-to-medium businesses (SMBs) and consumers was the best way for the firm to beef up sales.

"It's not a question of not being big in enterprise because the line between what is enterprise and SMB is interesting, right?" he said. "So what we’re focused on in 2008 is 80 per cent of the market.”

McNaughton said AMD plans to showcase ultra portable and enterprise-centric products in 2009 but added that those markets have never been the "focus of Puma".

He also refused to make comparisons with Montevina. "We compare what is available on the market. The minute it launches we will be making that comparison, but until that happens it is all conjecture."

McNaughton did however compare the new platform to Intel's Santa Rosa chip, which - he claimed - unlike Puma, has no support for DirectX 10, offers only limited HD acceleration, has limited wireless range and throughput, and, when switching between graphics, requires a reboot.

AMD might well grab some of Intel's market share over the coming months while its rival hurries to shove its delayed Centrino 2 processor out the door, but it will take a lot more than a feisty Puma for AMD to steal the crown from the king of the chip jungle. ®

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