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AMD revs Athlons for Windows 7 assault

Catching the small PC wave

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In the rush to catch the PC upgrade tsunami that may or may not materialize after the Windows 7 earthquake this Thursday, chip seller Advanced Micro Devices has had its wafer baker, GlobalFoundries, cook up new Athlon II processors for mainstream desktop PCs.

The Athlon II chips come in dual-, tri-, and quad-core variants and are pitched against Intel's Core 2 Duo, Core i5, and Core i7 desktop processors.

The Athlon II X2 200e series of chips are rated at 45 watts and aimed at all-in-one PCs that cram the PC into the back of a monitor. These 200e chips are also being deployed inside some small form factor microtower PCs because you can make the desktop footprint very small.

The Athlon II X3 400e family of chips has three processor cores and comes in 45 watt and 95 watt thermal envelopes; the hotter chips offer more bang and cost more money. The X3 chips are used in all-in-one and small footprint desktops as well as in some mainstream PCs.

Further up the family is the Athlon II X4 600e series, which are quad core chips also in a 45 watt power band, and the line tops out with the Phenom II X4 900e series, which is rated at 65 watts and which is the top-end mainstream part in terms of performance. All of these chips are based on 45 nanometer chip making processes and plug into AMD3 sockets.

Here are the eight new Athlon II chips that AMD kicked out today, including their thermal envelope, clock speed, and price per unit when buying 1,000-unit bins:

  • Athlon II X4 605e: 45 watts, 2.3 GHz, $143
  • Athlon II X4 600e: 45 watts, 2.2 GHz, $133
  • Athlon II X3 435: 95 watts, 2.9 GHz, $87
  • Athlon II X3 425: 95 watts, 2.7 GHz, $76
  • Athlon II X3 405e: 45 watts, 2.3 GHz, $102
  • Athlon II X3 400e: 45 watts, 2.2 GHz, $97
  • Athlon II X2 240e: 45 watts, 2.8 GHz, $77
  • Athlon II X2 235e: 45 watts, 2.7 GHz, $69

AMD is not only hoping to surf on the Windows 7 wave, but also on transitions to new desktop PC form factors.

The vast majority of desktop PCs sold in 2006 (around 65 per cent) were for minitowers, with another 10 per cent coming from tower PCs. A little less than 20 per cent of the PCs sold were for so-called small form factor PCs. (This is IDC data, by the way, which you can see here in this presentation put together by AMD.) This data shows that small form factor PCs are growing at the expense of minitowers, and will continue to do so between now and 2013.

Interestingly, ultra small form factor PCs, tiny PCs, and all-in-one PCs are all showing reasonably high adoption rates, and are displacing all kinds of larger PCs. Businesses and consumers alike want smaller PCs as much as they want faster ones with better graphics. The point is, AMD has to crank up its 45 watt, low-power offerings to catch this other wave. ®

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