Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) has confirmed it will be shipping a dual-core Athlon Neo processor as part of the Congo platform later in 2009. Designed for ultraportable notebooks with starter prices of roughly $600 and display sizes between 12 and 14 inches, Congo will follow the arrival of AMD’s recently announced Yukon platform which uses a single-core Athlon Neo processor.
The chipmaker is adamant that the two platforms are not made for netbooks, a sector in which rival Intel’s Atom processor reigns, but rather for ultraportable notebooks that occupy the gray area between netbooks and more powerful and fully-featured notebooks.
AMD spokesperson Phil Hughes told eWeek in an email that the dual-core Neo is nicknamed Conesus and will arrive in the second half of 2009, though he didn’t provide a specific release date or any technical specifications. It is expected that the dual-core processor will use AMD’s RS780M chip set that includes a SB710 southbridge, and the same 15 Watt thermal envelope used by the single-core Neo.
The announcement has come at a time of manic activity by the two rival semiconductor makers. Intel is planning a higher-powered 1.66 GHz Atom Z280 processor for a mid-year release, and is also working on a line of consumer ultra-low voltage processors that will probably directly compete with AMD’s Yukon and Congo platforms. Intel also had a rough fourth quarter earnings call that prompted across-the-board processor platform price cuts as the company struggles to downsize its bloated inventory. AMD is expected to announce fourth quarter results below analyst expectations, and very recently revealed it would be cutting 1, 100 jobs or 9 percent of its overall workforce.
While competition is what drives free market growth, it’s still interesting to see AMD and Intel launching platforms that will blur the lines of product definition for end consumers like us. By the middle of 2009, what will define a netbook? an ultraportable? a notebook? Will the massive activity by the two semiconductor manufacturers, further complicated by other releases this year from companies like Qualcomm, VIA and Freescale, confuse consumers by way of blurring the constitution of a netbook from that of a notebook? How will consumers decide what to buy when prices of the netbook-notebook continuum increase in increments of $50 and specifications are nearly identical from one increment to the next?