AMD is looking to put a troubled 2007 behind it with a pair of announcements Tuesday highlighting its desktop chipsets and manufacturing advances.
The company plans on Tuesday at the CeBit conference to unveil its most up-to-date integrated graphics products for low- to mid-range desktop PCs in the new 780 series chipsets. The chipsets allow moderately priced PC buyers to run games based on the DirectX10 technology and to get additional performance out of discrete graphics cards if they need more juice.
Integrated graphics chipsets are used in the majority of PCs sold in the world. They're designed to provide PC users with basic graphics technology at a lower cost than adding a discrete graphics chip from a company like Nvidia or ATI.
AMD was a little late to the party when it comes to delivering a standardized CPU and chipset combination, but its acquisition of ATI Technologies allowed it to catch up to Intel. Intel's integrated graphics division has struggled over the past few years, and AMD has tried to seize upon that weakness as a competitive balance to Intel's current advantage in just about every other part of the market.
The support for Microsoft's DirectX 10 technology allows more sophisticated games designed using the technology to run on AMD-based PCs, said Niles Burbank, a product manager in AMD's graphics division. Perhaps not nearly as well as those games would on a more expensive gaming system, but at least they will work.
And if customers of a 780-series PC decide they'd like a little more performance, they can use AMD's Hybrid Graphics technology to add in a discrete graphics card and get the combined benefit of both the integrated graphics and the discrete card. According to AMD, most times the integrated graphics technology in a generic chipset is disabled when a PC owner adds a discrete card to the mix.
PCs using the chipsets will start arriving in the second quarter from all of AMD's current partners, including the big guys like Hewlett-Packard and Dell. There will be two varieties, the 780G with more performance and the 780V for the truly cost-conscious buyer.
AMD is also using CeBit, held in Hannover, Germany, to make a manufacturing announcement related to its chip-making factories in Dresden. The company will formally announce that it has begun shipping samples of "Deneb" and "Shanghai," its first 45-nanometer processors for desktops and servers, respectively.
Deneb and Shanghai are essentially shrunken versions of the integrated quad-core Phenom and Barcelona processors introduced last year. AMD is well behind Intel in introducing 45-nanometer processors, as Intel's first models shipped in November, and has set an ambitious goal of switching from 65nm chipmaking technology to 45nm technology in 18 months; it usually takes 2 years.