AMD 'Yukon' looks beyond Netbooks

An AMD-based Netbook? Maybe, maybe not.

On Thursday at an analyst meeting AMD disclosed "Yukon," the name that AMD is giving to its near-term silicon technology, due in the first half of 2009, that will target the "ultraportable" market.

The company is being very careful to parse this as a more full-featured ultraportable PC play not a strict Netbook play.

The ideal Yukon form factor is a MacBook-Air style design: very thin with a 13-inch screen, according to AMD spokesman John Taylor.

In short, AMD is not offering an enthusiastic endorsement of the Netbook market with Yukon. "The target is the slim form factor with a larger screen. Not a 10- or 11- or 12-inch screen," Taylor said. He quickly added that smaller Netbook-style designs may appear but repeated that this is not the emphasis.

Why? AMD's approach is to deliver "a full PC experience," Taylor said. "It is not what you can say about some of the Netbook-type products on the market today, he said. AMD will do this by tapping into the graphics chip technology from its ATI unit, according to Taylor.

The tech specs that AMD is currently disclosing for Yukon are a sub 25-watt platform (processor and chipset) with single- and dual-core options. Currently, its mainstream Turion processors operate at over 30 watts. (Correction: the "sub 25-watt" Yukon refers to both the processor and chipset.)

AMD showed an ultraportable 65-nanometer chip dubbed "Conesus" on its roadmap. This will fall under the Yukon platform umbrella, Taylor said. It will have two cores and 1MB of cache memory. After this, a 45-nanometer Geneva chip will debut in 2010.

Taylor also offered this thinking: Intel's Netbook strategy is somewhat restrictive in that designs are small, at least under 12-inches and--to date--usually under 10 inches. Without mentioning Intel by name, he said this restriction is to "protect segmentation of your business." In other words, if Intel delivers a chip that address larger designs it would cannibalize Intel's more profitable mainstream mobile processor lines.


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