updated 10:45 am EST, Tue January 6, 2009
AMD Athlon Neo
AMD today fought back against the mounting wave of Intel-based netbooks by introducing the Athlon Neo processor and a matching platform. A compromise between low-power but also slow chips like Intel's Atom and traditional notebook chips, the Neo consumes at most 15W of typical power and measures just under 1.1 inches square but still clocks in at 1.6GHz and with the feature set of a larger notebook chip, such as a 1.6GHz system bus, a 512KB Level 2 cache and 64-bit code support.
The blend lets notebook makers produce much thinner and smaller notebooks that still behave like their larger cousins, AMD says.
An accompanying slate of Sempron processors provides a lower-cost alternative; these run at lower 1GHz and 1.5GHz speeds and halve the cache to 256KB. The slower part also consumes just 8W of power.
The company is also pressing for two new graphics choices that help make up the final platform. The ATI Radeon HD X1250 supplies an integrated graphics chipset fast enough to decode 1080p HD video without taking up significant amounts of power or space. For casual gaming or otherwise more advanced 3D, AMD is also teaming the platform with a new ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3410 dedicated part that carries 40 stream (effects) processor cores and support for DirectX 10 as well as OpenGL 2.x but is still efficient enough to run in the tight confines of an ultraportable.
The Athlon Neo and graphics are already available and ship first as part of the HP dv2, a new lightweight 12-inch system. Other customers haven't been named by AMD but are likely to include other major PC builders.