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Following the termination of the personal Internet communicator (PIC) project, Advanced Micro Devices said that it would continue to address the emerging market with low-cost personal computers (PCs) by selling microprocessors and providing reference designs of such entry-level systems to computer makers.

“We are going back to our core competency of selling chips. We will make reference designs and work with OEMs and ODMs, but we will not do an end product,” said Billy Edwards, chief innovation officer at AMD, in an interview with EETimes web-site.

Instead of selling complete systems, such as PIC, AMD will roll-out in the next couple of months reference designs of PCs running AMD Geode processors. Those reference designs are projected to be “tailored for specific markets” in the developing countries, however, the details are pretty vague at the moment.

The reference designs will eventually include processors ranging from the Geode LX700 to the NX1500 and operating systems including Windows Starter to XP Home and Professional. AMD Geode LX-series processors feature x86 architecture and a built-in memory controller, however, they have no relation to AMD Athlon 64 of XP processors. AMD Geode NX-series chips are powered by micro-architecture akin to AMD Athlon XP and provide much higher performance compared to the LX family.

Currently it is said that the new reference designs will provide performance lower than that of systems running AMD Sempron microprocessors, however, all Geode products currently available - NX and LX - are made using 130nm process technology, whereas AMD has already ceased to make chips using that fabrication process and is preparing to sell off appropriate equipment. Moreover, the Geode development center is about to be shut down. At the end, the company may still have to offer AMD Sempron-based reference designs to customers in emerging markets.

AMD said that the first generation of its reference designs will mainly address system integrators, but eventually the company plans to “merge” its efforts with Microsoft’s Flex-Go initiative.

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