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Thursday, March 6, 2008

CeBIT: AMD launches its 780 chipset

In a move to push its hardware standing when it comes to powerhouse mainstream computing, chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) has used this week’s CeBIT fair in Hanover to unveil its new 780 chipset.

Designed to deliver “the ultimate mainstream computing experience,” AMD offers that its 780 chipset will enable leading OEMs and system builders to create PCs capable of providing full HD, best-in-class 3D graphics performance, enhanced scalability, and “rock-solid stability” for mainstream gaming, multimedia and commercial PC systems.

From a gaming perspective, AMD outlines that the 780 chipset is the perfect choice for those looking to appreciate the unsullied and detail-rich images and dynamic interactivity on show when playing the very latest power-intensive DirectX 10 software.

“ATI Hybrid Graphics Technology is achieved by utilizing AMD’s new integrated chipset, the 780G and one of the ATI Radeon GPUs,” explains AMD’s official blurb regarding the attainment of enhanced gameplay performance through higher resolution, higher frame rates, and higher image quality.

Further to that, AMD is touting the 780 as: the first AMD chipset that enables everyday computer users to play DirectX 10 without the aid of an extra graphics card; the first AMD chipset to deliver a full HD cinematic experience; and the first AMD chipset that powers a green PC.

“The AMD 780G chipset is breaking barriers. This is the first AMD chipset to integrate a powerful Microsoft DirectX 10 graphics core powered by ATI Radeon Graphics,” trumpets the California-based chipmaker. “Get impressive DirectX 10 gaming performance right out of the box for playing the latest 3D games. The AMD 780 chipset series is a gaming machine at an incredible value.”

Beyond its gaming benefits, the AMD 780 offers full HD entertainment via the enhanced colour vibrancy and “lifelike picture quality” attributed to ATI Avivo HD1 technology, while the chipset also allows users to connect to a wide selection of the latest high-definition panels while also taking advantage of ATI SurroundView, which supports as many as four monitors with the addition of a Radeon graphics card.

Along with optimal power management for added energy efficiency when coupled with the latest eco-friendly AMD processors, the 780 chipset is also flexible enough to be combined with AMD’s new Phenom processors along with existing AMD chips.

ADM New Production Policy
Advanced Micro Devices said Tuesday that it was closing a technology gap with its rival Intel, cutting about in half the time required to move to a new manufacturing process.

The company also said it would soon begin selling a new graphics chipset called the 780 Series, which, it said, enables low-priced computers to display graphics with the speed and clarity previously found on expensive PCs sold to video game players and graphic artists.

A.M.D., based in Sunnyvale, Calif., told guests at a computer industry trade show in Hanover, Germany, that it was on track to make the leap to 45-nanometer processing technology this year. Such a transition has historically taken A.M.D. about two years, but the company now says it will achieve it in 12 to 18 months.

Shrinking the size of the circuitry on chips allows chip makers to put more transistors on each chip, improving the chip’s overall performance and enabling longer battery life. Intel has long benefited from its ability to make a faster transition to new chip-making processes than A.M.D. Intel began producing its first 45-nanometer chips in late 2007. The current standard in the chip industry is 65 nanometers.

“They’re doing everything in their power to improve their position,” Dean McCarron, principal analyst with Mercury Research, said of A.M.D.

The 45-nanometer products are being produced in A.M.D.’s plant in Dresden, Germany, using a process developed with I.B.M.

A.M.D.’s first 45-nanometer chips will be its Shanghai chip for servers and its Deneb chip for desktop computers.

“The launch of the A.M.D. 780 Series marks an uncommonly large step forward in mainstream PC capabilities,” said Phil Eisler, the corporate vice president and general manager in A.M.D.’s chipset division. Mr. Eisler said the chipsets would be available from a small number of PC makers this month, and more widely from larger PC manufacturers in the second quarter.

The new chipset follows A.M.D.’s announcement in January of a high-end graphics product that incorporates two chips on a single card, as well as a hybrid graphics card that speeds the display of graphics on cheaper PCs. With the 780 chips, A.M.D. is hoping to leapfrog a rival, Nvidia, the leading independent maker of graphics cards.

A.M.D. paid $5.4 billion for ATI Technologies, Nvidia’s chief rival, in mid-2006, but the company has been criticized by some financial analysts for paying too steep a price. Last year, A.M.D lost nearly $3.4 billion, much of that attributed to costs associated with its ATI acquisition.

“The jury is still out on whether the ATI acquisition made sense; we won’t know that for a couple of years,” said Mike Feibus, an analyst at TechKnowledge Strategies Inc. “But this is a sign that ATI is starting to stand up and dust itself off.”

Referring to Intel’s release of a new generation of processors last year called the Core Duo, Mr. McCarron said: “It’s not so much that A.M.D. has issues now, but that Intel has been coming on so strong. Moving to 45 nanometers helps A.M.D. become more competitive, and so will their getting aggressive about graphics.”

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