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AMD Turion 64 Gets Adoption, but Not Yet Wide

Back in the ancient days of the K6 and then K6-2 almost no one could imagine that microprocessors from Advanced Micro Devices will not only be faster than those from Intel Corp. in the desktop field, but will offer really tough competition for the latter’s chips in servers and one day will find themselves powering machines used by companies among the Fortune 100. Now that AMD has achieved spectacular results in desktop, server and workstation spaces, the company is heading to penetrate the rapidly growing market of mobile computers with the Turion 64 chip.

AMD Turion 64 – Revamped AMD Athlon 64

AMD Turion 64 targets the same space as Intel’s Centrino mobile platform – thin, light, but yet powerful notebooks. However, there is a significant difference between the Turion and the Centrino: the Turion 64 is a standalone processor, whereas the Centrino is a platform. AMD Turion 64 may be paired with any validated system logic from companies like ATI Technologies, NVIDIA Corp., Silicon Integrated Systems, ULi Electronics or VIA Technologies and any wired or wireless network adapters preferred by notebook makers. In case of Intel Centrino notebook manufacturers have to choose Intel Pentium M chip, Intel’s core-logic and Intel’s network controllers to be able to use the Centrino brand-name.

AMD Turion 64 mobile processor is designed to fit into 754-pin infrastructure with 800MHz HyperTransport speed, is equipped with either 1MB or 512KB of level-two cache and has built-in single-channel DDR memory controller supporting PC1600, PC2100, PC2700 or PC3200 DDR SDRAM. Additionally, the chip features PowerNow! energy saving technology with C3 Deeper Sleep state that reduces power consumption during idle moments as well as 3DNow!, SSE, SSE2 and SSE3 instructions. Like all AMD Athlon 64 processors, the Turion 64 supports 64-bit capability in addition to Enhanced Virus Protection technology.

AMD produces its Turion 64 chips using 90nm Silicon-on-Insulator fabrication process in its Dresden, Germany-based Fab 30.

Far From Being Thin and Light

At this point only Acer, ASUS, Averatec, BenQ, Fujitsu-Siemens, MSI and Packard Bell plan to produce AMD Turion-based notebooks shortly, while Gigabyte is planning to launch one later in the second or the third quarter. At CeBIT 2005 we managed to picture ASUS and MSI machines, it is known that Fujitsu Siemens’ and Acer’s laptops were also there, in fact, we did not succeed in finding them, but we still have all the information about the devices.

At least initially AMD Turion notebooks cannot show themselves in all their glory: the majority of manufacturers except MSI just used their old chassis originally intended for AMD Athlon 64 and Sempron processors to showcase AMD Turion 64. The consequence was that the chassis were not thin and light at all: the majority weight 2.5 kilograms of more.

ASUS A6000K, photo by PC Watch web-site

ASUSTeK’s A6000K, for example, comes in 15.4” wide-screen form-factor and weighs 2.8kg, which is normal for high-performance or value, but not thin-and-light notebooks.

ASUS A6000K specifications

Fujitsu-Siemens uses Amilo A-series chassis for its Turion 64 notebook. A-family of chassis typically weight around 2.75kg.

Acer Aspire 5020, photo by PC Watch web-site

Fujitsu-Siemens Amilo A7640, photo by PC Watch web-site

The only company who could showcase AMD Turion 64 in a thin and light form-factor is MSI with its MegaBook S270 that features 12” WXGA screen and weight below 1.5kg. The computer comes in chassis made of magnesium aluminum alloy and seems to be a very stylish one.

MSI MegaBook S270

While the start of the Turion 64 is not really outstanding, we remember that back in the days of the original AMD Athlon and AMD Opteron there were not a lot of desktops and servers to support the chips. 
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