January 6, 2005 9:00 PM PST

AMD's Centrino challenger: Turion

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LAS VEGAS--Turion, take me away.

Turion is the brand name of a new line of energy-efficient notebook processors Advanced Micro Devices will come out with in the first half of 2005. It is chipmaker's response to Intel's Centrino notebook technology, company executives said at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week.

While the company did not reveal any technical specifications on the chip, AMD said Turion will fit into thin and light notebooks and be optimized for extending battery power. Currently, AMD mostly sells notebook chips for "performance" notebooks, which provide desktoplike computing power but can sap batteries and generate heat.

The company's Athlon 64 notebook chips come with thermal ceilings ranging from 25 watts to 62 watts. By contrast, the Pentium M, the processor at the heart of the Centrino chip bundle, has a thermal ceiling of about 20 watts. The thermal ceiling gauges how much heat the processor can produce without endangering the performance of the notebook.

The chip will essentially allow AMD to compete more effectively in the lucrative notebook market. In recent years, Intel has enjoyed a wider market share in notebooks than in desktops, in part because of the Centrino chip bundle.

"The product will be comparable--from a performance and battery life perspective--with Centrino," said Bahr Mahony, marketing manager for AMD's mobile segment.

Notebooks sporting the new processor will come out at the same time as the chip, he added. Turion notebooks will be marketed for the consumer and business market. The company will also continue to produce the Athlon 64 mobile chips as well as budget Sempron notebook processors.

Intel, however, will also come out with a new notebook chip, code-named Sonoma, in a few weeks.

In contrast to Intel, AMD will not make and promote a bundle of chips to go with Turion. Centrino is a bundle of chips that consists of a processor, the Pentium M, a chipset and a wireless chipset. Third-party providers like Broadcom will provide those additional chips, Mahony said.

Unlike many chips, such as Intel's Celeron or AMD's Sempron, Turion does not derive from a perusal of a Latin dictionary. The brand name connotes "tour," he said. However, "turion" also refers to vegetative dormant organs produced by perennial aquatic plants.

So far, code names for Turion chips have not appeared on AMD's public road map, but executives have said the company planned to come out with chips that fit the description.

 

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