No netbook chips due from AMD

July 23, 2008 // 9:17 a.m.

Tags: #amd #atom #bobcat #eee-pc #intel #nano #netbook #processor #ulv #via

AMD isn't looking to compete in the low-cost 'netbook' market, according to comments by its chief marketing officer this week.

Nigel Dessau has been quoted by eWeek as saying that the company isn't saying “[the netbook market] is not an important segment and we're not saying it's not a growing segment” but admits that “[AMD is] a smaller company and we have to focus on what we do well at this point. We are watching that segment rather than playing in it, but as it matures we'll see where it goes.

While it's unsurprising that AMD is shy about competing head-on with Intel's Atom range and ultra-low-voltage chips from specialists such as Via, it's hard to deny that there is a rapidly growing market for the relatively underpowered ultra-portable low-cost 'netbook' devices – a market that rival Intel, a name that is cropping up in the overwhelming majority of such devices, is riding to success.

Rumours that AMD was due to release an Atom competitor codenamed “Bobcat” would appear to be quashed by these latest comments by Dessau – despite comments by Dirk Meyer, the new CEO of the company, hinting at an ultra-low voltage chip arriving before the end of the year.

Looking at the issue from AMD's perspective, on the one hand I agree with their decision: Intel has such an entrenched foothold in the market, and the difference in developing a high-performance low-cost chip – which AMD has traditionally excelled at – and in developing a medium-performance low-voltage low-cost chip – something AMD doesn't have a lot of experience of, outside the low-performance Geode – is likely to cause the company some headaches when it does decide to enter the market, especially when you take into account the losses the company is making quarter on quarter. However, leaving the market entirely to Intel – with Via picking up a few percent share here and there – doesn't seem like the smartest thing to do either.

Any AMD fans disappointed at the news that the Bobcat appears to be a red herring, or do you think Dessau's comments are nothing more than misdirection to keep its rivals from guessing the company's true intentions? Share your thoughts over in the forums.
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