Advanced Micro Devices will consign 32-bit only computing to the “value” end of the market today, when it launched its Sempron range of desktop and mobile processors.
The Athlon branding, which the vendor has been using for five years, will now be reserved for its AMD 64 architecture, which supports both 32 bit and 64 bit computing. Desktop and mobile products in this family are branded Athlon 64.
The products unveiled today include five desktop products two chips aimed at thin and light notebooks, and three chips for full sizes notebooks. All the models feature 128KB of level 1 cache, and 256KB of level 2 cache.
Kevin Owen, business development manager for AMD’s mobile business unit, said the products were aimed at everyday computing needs, which spanned office productivity applications and some digital content creation.
The Sempron and Athlon 64 products clearly share a large part of their designs. However, Owen was at pains to point out that this did not mean Sempron would offer the same level of performance as Athlon 64 running in 32 bit mode.
Athlon 64 is going to give better performance, he said, because of its higher cache count amongst other features. He added, With 64 bit, the level of performance is far better than Sempron.
While the vendor is clearly pushing its Athlon 64 line, the Sempron range should be around for at least the medium term. The first generation of products will be built on AMD’s 130 nanometer process. A 90 nanometer version is due in the first half of next year, and as of writing, the firm’s roadmap does not have the implied question mark of as market requires alongside the product family.
Intel already offers 64 bit extensions on its Xeon line of server chips, and the technology is due to appear on its workstation chips later this year. A spokesman said that Intel can effectively turn on 64 bit capability in its desktop range whenever it wants.
However, he said, to consign 32 bit only platforms to the value only segment was narrow thinking. He pointed out that so far there were currently no mass market operating systems or applications for 64 bit platforms, while the addition of features like hyper threading and PCI Express meant Intel could continue to push the boundaries of the 32 bit computing experience.
The mobile Semprons include EVP, the vendor’s anti-virus technology which, in combination with the upcoming Windows XP SP2, prevents viruses from executing in memory. EVP will not initially be available on the desktop. Owen said this was because some of the desktop products are designed to support AMD’s socket 7 spec, which doesn’t support EVP. The mobile products are only built to the socket 8 spec.
Owen said the EVP technology could be offered on the desktop in time, If the market will move that way.
Prices on the desktop products range from $39 to $126, while prices for the mobile lines range from $84 to $120.
By comparison, prices on Intel’s Celeron D line run from $69 and top out at $117, while mobile Celerons run from $96 to $134.
Chinese PC giant Lenovo will be shipping Sempron products immediately. Hewlett Packard will launch Sempron-based desktops later this year, while Acer and Sharp are both working on mobile Sempron-based designs.