AMD retools laptop chip strategy to challenge Intel's dominance

AMD hopes to put its upcoming Carrizo chips in more laptops through a new chip and components strategy

AMD's Carrizo chip

AMD's Carrizo chip

Advanced Micro Devices wants its chips in more laptops, and is devising a new strategy to reverse a free fall it has endured in the PC market over the last few years.

The chip maker is reshaping the way it supplies chips and components with the hope that more PC makers will use its upcoming Carrizo processors in laptops. At the center of the strategy is a plug-and-play component approach that will make it easier to plug any Carrizo chip into any laptop, regardless of size or price.

AMD will supply just one motherboard that will support a wide range of Carrizo and Carrizo-L laptop chips. The new approach will provide PC makers the flexibility of using a range of Carrizo chips in any laptop.

Laptop buyers as a result will be able to get a processor of their choice instead of settling for one they don't want, said Jason Banta, director of product management for client solutions at AMD.

AMD's chips typically go into low-cost laptops, and Carrizo -- which was announced a few months ago -- will be in laptops in the first half of this year. The Carrizo-L is for entry-level and mainstream laptops, while Carrizo is for mid-range and performance laptops. Carrizo succeeds the previous chips, codenamed Kaveri, which have not done well.

The Carrizo chips, which are based on the new Excavator CPU core, will bring "incremental experiences to our prior offerings," Banta said, adding that the company will share more processor details in the coming months.

AMD could show some PCs running on Carrizo and Carrizo-L at the International CES trade show in Las Vegas.

With Carrizo, AMD also hopes to regain PC processor market share it has lost to Intel, which has jumped ahead with its Core chips. Intel's also looking to boost graphics, and is bringing wireless communications, charging and data transfer capabilities to laptops.

AMD hopes to improve the battery life and performance on laptops with Carrizo. It is also focusing on squeezing more graphics performance from chips, which becomes relevant when playing games and watching high-resolution video. AMD has more advanced graphics technology than Intel, but is trying to catch up on CPU performance and power efficiency.

HP is AMD's largest customer, but other PC makers have been slowly dropping AMD from laptops. AMD hopes the new one-size-fits-all laptop approach will attract customers again.

PC makers will find it cheaper and easier to make a wider range of laptops with AMD's chips using the new component approach, Banta said.

Last year, PC makers had to use different components and motherboards for older chips like Kaveri and Beema. The motherboards were adapted to the laptop design and workload, Banta said, adding that won't be the case anymore with Carrizo.

AMD is presenting more details about Carrizo at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference in San Francisco in February.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

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Agam Shah

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