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AMD to take on Intel's Atom... but not netbooks

A nose by any other name

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Is AMD developing a netbook processor to rival Intel's Atom, or isn't it? Despite what AMD says about the part's target market, it is.

Not that AMD is denying that it's working on a would-be Atom smasher. Company CEO Dirk Meyer was reported today as saying the part will sample sometime next year. AMD will sell it for less than Intel charges for Atom, and the part will deliver more functionality too, he claimed, which is what AMD not unreasonably says about all its processor.

So it's a netbook chip, right? Not according to AMD. Meyer once again said that the term 'netbook' will disappear, as netbooks become more functional and the gap between small machines and their larger brethren is sealed for ever, if it hasn't already now that netbooks are creeping up in price and gaining 12in displays.

All this is just semantics. Whether a small machine with a screen that measures 10in or less is called a netbook or a notebook, its compact size means it needs a small battery and, in turn, more energy efficient components than a regular laptop requires, in order to deliver a decent battery life.

That means a different CPU than the one in a more mainstream machine, and that means two market segments - mainstream and mini - not one. So why not call the latter netbooks?

Because that would confirm Intel's logic in devising a new market segment with a new name, and that's something AMD doesn't want to do. ®

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