Micron Electronics Tuesday announced plans to add AMD's Athlon chip to a line of business PCs.
Many PC makers offer Advanced Micro Devices' low-cost Athlon chip in consumer lines, but Micron Electronics is the first well-known North American manufacturer to offer the Athlon on desktops built for the corporate market.
The Meridian, Idaho-based direct PC seller said it would ship Athlon chips in future ClientPro PCs, a line aimed at government customers and small to medium-sized businesses.
That is not to say Micron Electronics is abandoning Intel. The company said the Athlon PCs will be sold alongside systems based on Intel's Pentium III.
"We're starting to see the beginnings of demand from our customer base wanting to see a choice [of processor brands]," said Micron Electronics spokesman Paul Desmond.
Company officials were tight-lipped about details, such as the availability and configuration of the new AMD-based PCs. However, it is likely Micron Electronics will offer Athlon chips with the new AMD 760 chipset and double data rate synchronous dynamic RAM.
The Micron announcement is a significant step in AMD's effort to win acceptance in the corporate arena. It has been moving in that direction for some time, said Roger Kay, a research director with IDC.
"It's time for this to happen," Kay said. "There's no particular reason AMD hasn't taken off in the corporate market. The insistence on Intel Inside is irrational, it seems to me."
Corporate IT managers are typically reluctant to change their hardware-buying habits. However, those habits may be changing.
The question, Kay said, is "whether Micron can become a vehicle to help AMD establish itself on the business side". "The big vendors are not going to make their moves based on what's happening at Micron," he said. However, "If [Athlon-based corporate PCs] seem to be taking off, the other OEMs will notice."
The rest of the industry may view Micron's announcement as a trial balloon.
"Micron can take the risks and if [Athlon for corporate] takes off, they can cash in too," Kay said.
Micron currently sells AMD's Athlon and Duron chips as well as Intel's Pentium III and Pentium 4 chips in its Millennia line of consumer PCs.
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