With all the focus on mobile chips and as-yet-unreleased Ivy Bridge and Trinity processors, sometimes it's easy to lose sight of the fact that, you know, there are already a ton of processors out there for you to choose from. That number recently increased by two, as AMD quietly rolled out a pair of new Athlon II X4 CPUs, otherwise known as "Llano chips without integrated graphics."
Here we are on Friday and we almost went a whole week without another addition to MSI's Classic series of laptops. Squeaking in just in time is the CX413, the newest addition to the Classic line sporting a 14-inch screen and AMD's new Vision (Danube) platform inside.
Base configuration consists of an AMD Athlon II dual-core P320 processor, up to 8GB of DDR3-1066 memory support (no word on much it ships with), ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5470 graphics with 512MB of video memory, 250/320/500GB hard drive, DVD burner, a trio of USB 2.0 ports, 4-in-1 card reader, HDMI, VGA, 802.11g/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Gigabit LAN, 1.3MP webcam, and a 6-cell battery.
Like several models that came before it, the CX413 includes MSI's exclusive ECO engine power saving technology, which allows users to select from various power management levels, including Entertainment, Presentation, Word Processing, and Turbo Battery.
Right around this time in 2008, AMD said it was taking a wait-and-see approach to the netbook market, saying "We are watching that segment rather than playing in it, but as it matures we'll see where it goes." It looks like the world's second largest chip maker has seen enough, as we see yet another AMD-based netbook emerge.
This latest entry comes from Gateway, which just announced its 11.6-inch LT32 Series netbook built around AMD's Athlon II Neo K125 processor clocked at 1.7GHz. It will also pack ATI Radeon HD 4225 graphics with 384MB of onboard memory.
"The Gateway LT32 is a true ultra-mobile entertainment powerhouse netbook," said Pete Dailey, senior product marketing manager for Gateway netbooks. "It delivers a heightened level of performance and HD entertainment with the powerful combination of AMD Neo processors, ATI graphics, and the crisp and clear HD display. The HDMI port means that customers can enjoy their digital entertainment on a large external display wherever they go."
Other specs include 2GB of DDR3 memory, 250GB hard drive, 3G, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, three USB 2.0 ports, and pretty much everything else you'd expect to find on a netbook.
AMD has bumped up it’s line of desktop microprocessors with the introduction of a new set of Athlon II processors, including the first Athlon triple-cores. Triple-core processors, obviously, fill the gap between dual-core and quad-core versions, and, according to Nathan Brookwood of the market research firm Insight 64, offer more power than dual-cores while costing less than quad-cores, making them attractive choices for desktop makers.
The new processors include Athlon II X2s in 2.7GHz and 2.8 GHz, four Athlon II X3s ranging from 2.2 GHz up to 2.9 GHz, and Athlon II X4s at 2.2 GHz and 2.3 GHz. All of the processors pull 45 watts, except for the 2.7 GHz and 2.9 GHz X3s which draw 95 watts. All of the new Athlon IIs are manufactured using 45-nanometer dies.
AMD claims the 2.8 GHz X2 will perform up to 70 percent better on media and entertainment benchmarks than an Intel Core 2 Duo E7400, while the 2.9 GHz X3 shows a 75 percent performance jump over the Intel Core 2 Duo E8500. Overall, AMD says these new processors will offer “superior competitive value for mainstream consumers in productivity, HD video, and 3D gaming.”
With Windows 7 right around the corner, let the marketing frenzy begin. Case in point: According to AMD spokesman Brent Barry, all those Athlon II chips that recently rolled off AMD's assembly line are "fully optimized" for the upcoming OS.
"It was important for AMD to get in front of the pack for the release of Windows 7," Barry told TGDaily. "We are well positioned for it, with acceleration and virtualization support. Our drivers are all ready to go. From a CPU and graphics standpoint, we have a better start than Intel does."
Oh snap! But not worry if you've already invested in a Core i7 or i5 platform, it's not as if Windows 7 will suddenly refuse to boot i if it detects Intel inside. The point Barry is trying to drive home is that AMD owns the value market. By Barry's numbers, the AMD Athlon II X2 240e, for example, performs "up to 70 percent better" then similarly priced Intel silicon. Or take the Athlon II X3 435 chip, which AMD says offers a 75 percent boost in media and entertainment apps when compared to Intel's Core 2 Duo E8500.
On a less controversial note, Barry also said Windows 7 will likely help drive PC sales growth, whereas that wasn't necessarily the case with Vista.