Tuesday, January 6, 2009

AMD Athlon Neo for Ultrathin Notebooks

AMD today announced the availability of the AMD platform for ultrathin notebooks, enabling exceedingly thin and light OEM designs with rich entertainment capabilities at an affordable price. Previously codenamed “Yukon,” the platform is based on the new AMD Athlon™ Neo processor, ATI Radeon X1250 integrated graphics and optional ATI Mobility Radeon™ HD 3410 discrete graphics and brings true HD entertainment to a new category of stylish notebook PCs.

The first Athlon Neo processor is the MV-40 and it's clocked at today's standard, 1.6GHz. The CPU uses a 1,600MHz Hypertransport bus, has 512k of cache and supports 32 and 64-bit operating systems. As this is a 65nm SOI part, it's not as power efficient as Intel's Atom processor, but it's still quite reasonable with a TDP of 15W. But remember the Neo has more cache, an integrated memory controller and importantly - out of order execution for much improved performance.

The chipset of choice is the M690T which is getting fairly old by now as it only features ATI's Radeon X1250 graphics which isn't exactly cutting edge, even for integrated graphics. It can use Sideband memory and the chipset also supports HDMI and DVI. The platform will support the Mobility Radeon HD 3410 discrete graphics solution which will allow the platform to play back 1080p video and maybe even some casual gaming. The Mobility Radeon HD 3410 support DDR2 memory, although it seems to be limited to 64MB. The memory clocks should be around 700MHz with the GPU clocked as high as 500MHz.

The AMD Yukon platform debuts within the HP Pavilion dv2 Entertainment Notebook PC ultrathin notebook, which measures less than one-inch thick and weighs less than four pounds. The HP Pavilion dv2 also comes equipped with a 12.1-inch diagonal LED BrightView display, nearly full-size keyboard, and optional external optical disc drive with Blu-ray capability.

HP is the first manufacturer to launch an AMD Neo based machine, the sleek 12-inch Pavillion dv2. The dv2 is powered by an Athlon Neo at 1.6GHz (TDP 15W), uses Radeon HD3410 graphics and offers up to 500GB of storage. It weighs 1.7kg and it's 2.3cm thick, a bit more than the MacBook Air or Lenovo X301, which are both 13.3-inch units. Nothing spectacular, but not bad either. You could say it's half way between a netbook and an ultraportable.

You can view the video here : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3gJC9jLClHg

Anyway, here's the good part - the entry level SKU will retail at $699 (€520/£475) ex VAT, while better spec'd iterations will sell for $899 (€669/£610), and it looks nice too. The only downside is that the 12.1-inch LED backlit screen has a native resolution of 1,280x800 pixels which isn't exactly full HD resolution for those that want to watch Blu-ray movies on it via the optional external Blu-ray drive.

In introducing the AMD ultrathin notebook platform, AMD enables balanced PC performance, including the option of advanced graphics and video for true HD entertainment, all in an affordable, ultrathin notebook, bringing consumers uncompromised mobility.

AMD is expected to follow up Yukon with the Congo platform in Q2 this year and by then the chipset will be changed to a 780G derived solution which should allow for much better base performance.

For more info about YUKON and AMD Athlon Neo, read here:
Official Press Release
PC World
Ars Technica
Notebook Review


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