AMD races first 'Thoroughbred' chip to laptop market

The chip maker has finally brought its smaller, less power-hungry design to market in the form of new mobile processors

AMD has introduced its first processor based on the smaller, more efficient "Thoroughbred" core, the mobile Athlon XP. The chip is available now and will launch in several laptops later this quarter, AMD said.

Thoroughbred, which shrinks the previous "Palomino" core from 0.18-micron to 0.13-micron geometry, is expected to arrive in desktop processors next month. The new manufacturing process allows AMD to shrink the size of the processor die, making the chip use less power and give off less heat, and allowing it to scale to higher clock speeds. AMD has been criticised for the heat generated by its 0.18-micron chips.

The new chips are compatible with components designed for the older processors, easing the transition for manufacturers, and they add an optional 266MHz front-side bus to allow data to pass more quickly to and from the processor. The chips are also available with a 200MHz front-side bus.

The new mobile processors are available in model numbers 1400+ and 1500+, running at 1.2GHz and 1.3GHz. Model numbers 1600+ and 1700+ are to be available later this quarter, running at 1.4GHz and 1.47GHz.

Also coming later this quarter will be a low-power mobile Athlon XP designed for thin-and-light notebooks. Lightweight notebooks are emerging as a lucrative niche in the corporate market.

Notebooks using the Thoroughbred chip aren't yet available, but Sharp is expected to ship a Mebus PC-GP1-C7H laptop in Japan in early May. Packard Bell has said it will use the chip in European notebooks later this quarter, and Epson Direct will make another Athlon XP notebook in Japan later this quarter.

The 1400+ chip sells for $190 (about £133) in quantities of 1,000, while the 1500+ chip costs $250. When they arrive, the 1600+ chip will cost $380 and the 1700+ chip will cost $489.

AMD's top-speed chip is currently the Athlon XP 2100+ running at 1.7GHz. Market leader Intel sells a 0.13-micron Pentium 4 running at 2.4GHz. The 2100+ chip is likely to be the last Palomino-based Athlon XP, with Thoroughbred likely to arrive with a 2200+ model number.

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