Nothing fishy about chips

Some companies in the Asia-Pacific region are clear about what it would take for them to choose AMD over Intel, and vice versa.

Should businesses go for AMD or Intel based systems? For some brand-conscious companies in the Asia-Pacific region, Intel has the upper hand. For others, price and function weigh more heavily in their buying decision.

Judging by the latest round of earnings reports, chipmaker AMD seems to be gaining a strong foothold in a market once monopolized by arch rival Intel.

But one company says it still prefers to use microprocessors manufactured by the bigger player.

Andrew Sansom, director of DP Search, a recruitment agency specializing in the IT and finance industries in Southeast Asia, said the company has little consideration for Intel's competitors.

"We tend to prefer Intel-based products because we have a perception that they are faster and better, even if they cost a little more," he noted.

Some industry benchmarks however, have put AMD ahead of Intel on the dual-core desktop platform. Reviewers at ZDNet U.K. also rated AMD as the "most attractive dual core option", and offers a "much better performer" in its entry-level Athlon 64 chip than Intel.

Sansom said DP Search weighs both the brand and the performance of the chips when purchasing systems. Even if it means having to pay more, the company would buy hardware with relatively newer and faster processors so that performance will not be an issue when new software applications are installed on the system.

Henry Ee, director of Business Continuity Planning Asia, noted he would use hardware powered by AMD chips "mainly for less critical and straight-forward desktop processing".

For mission-critical systems, the chipmaker's brand and track record as well as hardware support, play an important role in helping the company determine which systems to choose, Ee said.

Appealing to the price-sensitive
Daniel Ong, marketing executive at International Publishers Direct (IPD), pointed out that cost-wise, companies will "definitely look for lower-priced systems that are able to serve their needs". IPD produces and distributes multimedia content to retailers and educational institutions in Asia.

As a result, AMD chips may appeal to these users, he added.

In fact, the chipmaker just over the weekend slashed prices on some of its dual-core desktop processors and Turion mobile processors.

Ultimately, cost and function--not the brand of a processor--are important considerations for IPD, said Ong. For example, he explained, the company would not require high-end processors for PCs used for data entry but would want faster and better-performing ones for graphic design work.

Whatever the strategy, both AMD and Intel are still maintaining strong growth in various markets.

Sunnyvale, Calif.-based AMD last week reported strong sales volume for the fourth quarter of 2005, while Intel posted lower-than-expected processor shipments.

But while it lost market share to AMD in the U.S. retail PC market, Intel raked in revenues totaling US$5.1 billion in unit shipments to Asia during its fourth quarter, a 16 percent increase over the same period in 2004.

AMD has the potential to expand its partnerships with major hardware manufacturers, such as Dell Computer. Earlier this month, rumors that Dell was considering putting AMD chips in its products flew fast and furious. Piper Jaffray analyst Les Santiago subsequently predicted that Dell will ship systems with AMD chips in the second half of 2006.

Dell's U.K. head Josh Claman, however, has since dismissed the rumor, and added that CIOs he spoke to did not mind what type of chips are in the systems they purchase.

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