News Bits: AMD Yokohama Platform, $1 Billion Worth of $100 Laptops to Ship, Dell Rethinks Notebook Selling Strategy

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AMD-ATI to launch “Yokohama” notebook platform in Q4


AMD and ATI will jointly launch a new notebook platform by Q4 of this year, currently codenamed Yokohama. It uses AMD’s Turion 64 X2 processors and ATI’s future chipsets (RS690M, RS690DC, RS790M). It also may use wireless chipsets from Broadcom, Atheros Communications, or Airgo Networks.

AMD is likely to build its own Centrino-like platform for high performance laptops using ATI chipsets. ATI held 63.1% of the world’s market of discrete notebook GPUs in Q2 2006.

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Quanta to ship 10 million $100 laptops

Michael Wang, president of Quanta Computer, said the company has set a 12-month shipment goal of ten million notebooks for the $100 laptop project, starting when the actual shipments will begin in Q1 2007. Shipments are expected to expand considerably at the end of next year.  If this quantity is true Quanta revenue would be $1 billion.

Although the $100 laptops are waterproof, sand-proof, and shockproof, and targeted mainly at third-world countries, they could also attract attention from Europe and the US. Quanta said it will not categorize orders for the $100 laptops under its general notebook business – the project will take place in Jiangsu province, China, where Quanta fulfills its non-notebook products.

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ATI launches Radeon Xpress 1250 for Intel-based notebooks

August 29th – ATI launched its new Radeon Xpress 1250 chipsets for Intel-based notebooks. It will be available through leading notebook OEMs. The Radeon Xpress 1250 is the first Intel-based chipset to support ATI’s AVIVO display and video technology, which helps smooth out video playback (including high-definition content), and offer more true-to-life pictures.

The Radeon Xpress 1250 is Windows Vista-ready, and designed to handle the Aero Glass GUI (Graphical User Interface) – it is based on the Radeon X700 graphics core, and supports Shader Model 2.0. It allocates memory for use as a video buffer (up to 512MB). The chipset supports the latest memory and networking standards.

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Sales slump causes Dell to rethink strategy

Dell is facing a fundamental problem – they’re famous for selling their products over the phone and Internet; the direct-sales business model helps them be more efficient and able to undercut competitors, such as Gateway and HP. However, in the last few years, PC buying behavior has changed. Much more growth now comes from individuals rather than the business market, and more and more people are looking for laptops rather than desktops as home computers – and that’s where Dell is weak.

Dell’s notebook models lack the style and features of its competitors. Many consumers prefer to see the notebooks in person before buying – you can’t go and see Dells in a store. 56% of laptops sold in Q1 of this year were bought in a store, up from 50% two years ago according to NPD group.

Three times in the past five quarters, Dell has missed sales or failed to meet earnings projections. Recently, it posted a 51% drop in quarterly profit. In order to dig itself out of the hole that it is currently in, Dell is pouring a hefty $150 million into improving its image, and launched a host of new products in May.

Dell’s primary focus is the business market – the consumer market is secondary. According to IDC, consumers will buy more laptops than corporations by 2010. Current Dell CEO Kevin Rollins still believes that the direct business model is the best way to serve their customers.

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Fujitsu to launch perpendicular HDD in Q4

Fujitsu is extending its 2.5″ notebook-oriented hard drive lineup with PATA and SATA models, with the SATA drives (MHW2160BH) using a perpendicular recording technique to offer up to 160GB of storage capacity. It will also come in an 80GB flavor. Both spin at 5,400RPM, and have write/seek times of 12/14 ms respectively. The new PATA drives (MHW2080AT) will spin at 4,200RPM, but with the same write/seek times.

The new drives will ship in Q4 according to Fujitsu.

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DDR2 takes over as most popular PC memory type

DDR2 has finally taken over as the most popular form of PC memory after a longer than expected delay. AMD helped put off demand for DDR2 this year, waiting until the middle of the year to launch its first notebook and desktop processors that support the DDR2 standard.

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Logitech’s new VX Revolution notebook mouse

The VX Revolution is Logitech’s latest laptop-friendly mouse, but its more than just a fancy design. It incorporates the new MicroGear high-precision, low-resistance scroll wheel. It can be switched from the traditional “gear style” to a true free-wheeling style, spinning for up to seven seconds depending on how hard you spin it. This can be really appealing to spreadsheet users – you can shoot to the end of the document in seconds.

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