AMD's Turion gets two more votes from HP, Acer

Advanced Micro Devices Inc. has won the further support of two major PC vendors for its Turion mobile technology, with the introduction of new laptops from Hewlett-Packard Co. and Acer Inc. this week.

The expected introduction on Wednesday of the HP Compaq nx6125 notebook for small and medium-sized businesses marks the third announcement HP and AMD have made in the past several weeks related to AMD's Turion chips. HP just released an AMD notebook that will partially benefit cyclist Lance Armstrong's foundation, and announced several AMD models during a quarterly refresh of its notebook lineup last week.

Acer Tuesday released its newest Ferrari notebook, the previously announced Ferrari 4000, with AMD's Turion processors. Acer's Ferrari notebooks have been hot sellers since they were introduced with AMD's chips in late 2003, said Rob Enderle, principal analyst at The Enderle Group in San Jose.

Turion is AMD's first processor designed for a mobile environment. It is basically the same chip as its desktop Athlon 64 processor but has been modified to consume less power. HP is using the ML class of Turion chips, which are the more powerful category of the two Turion varieties introduced earlier this year.

Along with the introduction of the nx6125, AMD is rolling out a new Turion processor, the ML-40. AMD and Acer hinted at their future product plans in March at CeBIT when they displayed two Aspire notebooks that used this chip, the most powerful Turion processor yet released.

HP has worked closely with AMD for a number of years, unlike its major PC rival Dell Inc., which maintains an exclusive relationship with Intel Corp. Now that AMD has a mobile processor in Turion that can compete with the performance and power consumption of Intel's Pentium M chip, HP is trying to use its relationship with AMD as a selling point, Enderle said.

The HP Compaq nx6125 weighs 5.9 lb. and comes with a 15-in. display. A base configuration costs $999 with the Turion ML-28 processor, 256MB of memory, a 40GB hard drive, a DVD-ROM/CD-RW drive, a Mobility Radeon X300 graphics chip from ATI Technologies Inc., and an integrated 802.11b/g wireless chip from Broadcom Corp. It is immediately available around the world.

HP also included a fingerprint reader and three-year warranty with this notebook, attempting to address concerns that customers at smaller businesses have about security and support, said Stephen Schultis, acting director of business notebook marketing. Each region of the world will set its own warranty policies, but the three-year warranty will definitely be available in the U.S., he said.

Acer's Ferrari 4000 notebook features the famous horse logo of legendary exotic car designer Ferrari SpA on its cover and is available in red or black. Like its namesake cars, the notebook is also quite a bit more expensive than its mainstream counterparts, at $1,999. It features a 15.4-in. widescreen display, ATI's Mobility Radeon X700 graphics chip with 128MB of video memory, 1GB of memory and a 100GB hard drive. Information about the specific AMD Turion processor used in this notebook was not immediately available.

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