AMD chief plans to take on corporate market

German AMD chief Jochen Polster speaks out about competition, cooling systems and mobile devices

Jochen Polster, German chief executive of AMD, is content. The company's stand is bustling with adolescent speedfreaks and businessmen: there's no doubt that this year AMD is among the CeBIT stars.

Despite the general trend, AMD has been growing as a company at the expense of its main competitor Intel, thanks to a series of successful marketing campaigns for the Athlon processor.

"The market does not look bright," says Polster. "But as long as we continue to take market shares, the losses should counterbalance." AMD is taking a completely different strategy to its archrival Intel: "We are semiconductor manufacturers and nothing else."

There seems to be no motivation for AMD to get involved with networking modules or software like Intel, as the company believes there is sufficient scope left within the CPU market: "Up to now we have concentrated on the consumer market. Now it is time to attack the corporate market."

Polster would not, however, confirm claims made by a recent report in a US magazine that IBM will soon be launching a range of dual front-end network servers equipped with dual Athlon motherboards. "That's our partner's business, not ours."

AMD displayed the first dual-Athlon systems in autumn last year at the Microprocessor Forum in San Jose. The first dual systems incorporating the AMD 760MP chipset and Double Data Rate Memory (DDR) experienced some delays but can now be admired at the AMD stand at CeBIT.

"In terms of consumer chips the 2GHz barrier will be broken within the coming year. In the meantime, power consumption has become equally important to us as clock rates. Unfortunately no one would buy a 200 MHz CPU that would run on a single watt."

High-performance systems these days rely on sophisticated cooling which not only prevents mobility but also come at a hefty price. Consumers are most comfortable with PCs between 2,000 and 2,500 deutschmarks (£700-800). "Cooling systems will always bring the price up but there's always a job there for enthusiasts."

It is obvious that the mobile device market is in need of energy-saving chips. Transmeta however, is not targeting that market: "Crusoe is more for the niche-market -– people for whom speed is not so important. For example, for 'Subsubsub-Notebooks'," says Polster.

AMD has been working with Transmeta on the simulation of the coming "Hammer" CPU range, on the basis that "the market for mobile devices is bound to grow enormously. But for notebooks probably even more than for PDAs. The problem with organisers is that they are too limited, you can't even type. Users want desktop functionality on the go," says Polster. Transmeta should therefore be at an advantage.

Athlon’s follow-up, the then codenamed "Palomino" will soon be ready to roll out but under the Athlon brand name, explains Polster. "The name has established itself too well to simply be thrown overboard. Palomino will be introduced as the 'Athlon something'." Thanks to ZDNet Germany for this report and to Sophie Handrick for the translation.

German language version of this report available here

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Take me to ZDNet Germany's CeBIT 2001 special report home page

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