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Cheap small notebooks and netbooks, like the HP dm1Z have powered Fusion to massive sales, taking rival Intel Corp. by shock.  (Source: Netbook Live)

AMD's Fusion is a mid-market powerhouse that Intel has no direct answer to in terms of price and performance. Atom is too weak; Sandy Bridge is too expensive.  (Source: Funimation/Toei)
Company sold 5 million chips since the Fusion platform's launch at the start of 2011

As if Intel Corp. (INTC) needed any more bad news after all the grief ARM Holdings plc (ARMH) is giving it, it appears that Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (AMD) may be closing the gap in notebook and netbook sales.

Late last month, Microsoft's Bill Koefoed, general manager of investor relations, reported "a 40 percent decline in Netbooks" in Q1 2011.  In Q1 2010, netbooks sold about 10 million units, so this indicates that about 6 million netbooks sold in January, February, and April.  If that pace were sustained, through May around 10 million netbooks would have sold.

AMD's Raymond Dumbeck announced this week that AMD sold 5 million "Fusion" chips in the first five months of the year.  AMD's Fusion chips went into a mix of 10-, 11-, and 12-inch notebooks.  Given that the line between a "netbook" and "ultra-portable PC"/"small PC" lies somewhere in 11-12 inch range it seems like a fair guess that A.MD sold about 3 million "netbooks" -- or about a third of the total market (~10 million units)

That's incredible news for AMD which traditionally had little sales success in the mobile sector and virtually no sales in the netbook sector.

The flip side of the AMD victory is that Intel's ultra-mobile Atom processor appears to have bled a great deal of market share in a very short time.  Atom has suffered as AMD reportedly undercut it with Fusion and delivered a superior on-chip GPU compared to Intel's solution.

Intel's only saving grace has been that the rush to Fusion has taken AMD somewhat as surprised.  Mr. Dumbeck comments that the company is currently sold out of its existing stocks.  That shortage slowed sales from approximately 3.9 million in the first quarter to a mere 1.1 million the next two months.

That brief reprieve for Intel may be short-lived, though.  AMD is reportedly working to increase shipment of existing Fusion processors, as well as widening the channel to include new models.

AMD's current Fusion CPUs fall into the Brazos family, which feature the company's new mobile Bobcat core.  They are split between Ontario, which features lower power consumption and lower clock speeds, and Zacate, which features slightly higher power requirements and clock speeds.  Both Brazos flavors are built on a 40 nm process.

The company is preparing to ship a new type of Fusion "advanced processing unit" (APU) codenamed Llano.  Llano packs a beefier K10 core (found in the Phenom II and Athlon II processor lines), but a die shrink to 32 nm should help to mitigate the power bump, slightly.  The processors are expected to come in dual core and quad core varieties and fall between 25 watts and 100 watts in power consumption.

Intel doesn't exactly have a new processor that can compete at the same market point as Llano.  Atom will be much weaker than Llano.  Sandy Bridge will be much more powerful, but will also be more expensive.  The lack of a mid-market CPU offering from Intel should help Llano see strong sales when it begins shipping early next month.

Brazos has clearly exceeded AMD's wildest expectations.  With support from Dell Inc. (DELL), Sony Corp. (TYO:6758), Acer Inc. (TPE:2353), Hewlett-Packard Company (HPQ), and Lenovo Group Ltd. (HKG:0992) AMD's Fusion project is seriously threatening Intel's netbook and notebook processor offerings.

With 28 nm enhanced Bobcat 1-4 core models and 32 nm 2-4 core Bulldozer based models due out next year, AMD clearly hopes to continue to apply the performance pressure on Intel's Atom line and pricing pressure on Intel's Sandy Bridge line.

As with its success in the GPU market, AMD's turn-around owes to the company shifting its focus to the consumer budget and mid-market sectors, versus the traditional enthusiast race that it has waged versus competitors in the GPU and CPU markets.  A company focusing on the majority of consumers, versus a select few?  What a novel thought!  But it sure appears to be working for AMD.

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It's very simple
By Beenthere on 5/30/2011 3:25:29 PM , Rating: 3
As long as AMD continues to offer what consumers desire they will do just fine. No one "needs" any Intel product. People buy what makes them happy.

RE: It's very simple
By kensiko on 5/30/2011 3:32:22 PM , Rating: 2
That's right.

I'm happy that AMD is at least back in business in the netbook market. Can't wait to see Bulldozer.

RE: It's very simple
By Da W on 5/30/2011 3:50:50 PM , Rating: 2
We'll be disapointed by bulldozer. It will just match Sandy bridge, not surpass it, then Intel will move ahead with ivy bridge. Rumors are global foundries can't push decent yields and bulldozer will suffer from lower than expected clock speed.

However, i can't wait to have a 14", 500$ Llano laptop with good enough graphics to play games. I think this market is underestmated, it is HUGE. you don't need killer CPU power anymore, but you never have enough GPU power.

Looking for a Zacate E-350 tablet too! So far acer iconia with the C-50 is the best option, still not good enough for me.

RE: It's very simple
By 4745454b on 5/30/2011 4:35:07 PM , Rating: 2
We'll be disapointed by bulldozer. It will just match Sandy bridge, not surpass it, then Intel will move ahead with ivy bridge. Rumors are global foundries can't push decent yields and bulldozer will suffer from lower than expected clock speed.

Not from the rumors I've heard. I'm not sure BD will even match SB. First core series maybe. I've heard the yield/production issues, that's probably true. I haven't heard anything about low clocks though. As a matter of fact because BD is rumored to be around the speed of the first core series, they will need higher clocks to compete with SB/IB. I've heard test chips can hit ~4GHz with ease, 4.5GHz for some. I doubt clocks will be an issue.

I do agree with what else you wrote. I prefer the 15" screens myself, but we seem to finally be reaching the age of gaming on all notebooks.

RE: It's very simple
By mvs on 5/31/2011 3:29:51 AM , Rating: 2
I've heard test chips can hit ~4GHz with ease, 4.5GHz for some. I doubt clocks will be an issue.
AMD has traditionally had trouble with clock speed. I hated when their naming convention with the Athlon's. An Athlon 64 X2 "6000+" had a clock of 3.1GHz. They called it a "6000+" for marketing reasons. Dumb.

Will be gratefully surprised if clocks aren't an issue. Ain't holding my breath though.

RE: It's very simple
By Targon on 5/31/2011 8:37:11 AM , Rating: 2
That naming convention came from the days of the Pentium 4, when people would see "2.4GHz" from a Pentium 4, and assume that it was faster than a comparable AMD processor that was as fast overall, but had a lower clock speed. The problem was that as time went on, the rating system broke down and AMD eventually dropped it since Intel was no longer pushing clock speed as the way to measure performance.

RE: It's very simple
By adiposity on 5/31/2011 1:46:09 PM , Rating: 2
The problem was that as time went on, the rating system broke down and AMD eventually dropped it since Intel was no longer pushing clock speed as the way to measure performance.

No, the problem was that as time went on, AMD became less and less competitive, but they didn't accurately reflect this in their "performance" model numbers. As they fell further behind, they resorted more to gaming these model numbers, since they were under no obligation to accurately measure their comparative performance.

They lost a lot of credibility during that time. Eventually they had to drop the program because

a). It didn't reflect performance
b). It made them seem desperate.

RE: It's very simple
By 4745454b on 5/31/2011 9:11:00 PM , Rating: 2
New article on the front page.

Current B1 stepping parts are easily hitting 3.8GHz which is what the high end SKU may actually ship at (with turbo support up to 4.2GHz).

My pure guess, B1 can do it, but at a very high Vcore. B2 will probably milk a bit more out of it, but will do so at a lower voltage. AMD is holding off as they don't want to release a bunch of 140W parts again.

RE: It's very simple
By mvs on 6/1/2011 5:54:26 AM , Rating: 2
Interesting. BD built on 32nm SOI process with HKMG (finally). I wonder if GF has new mgt. pushing them to improve their process technology. Almost seems out of character 8)

There may be light at the end of the tunnel after-all. Thanks for the link.

RE: It's very simple
By Da W on 5/31/2011 4:07:10 PM , Rating: 2
I've seen screenshot of 4,5 Ghz bulldozer, but was it only a one-core turbo?
Logically when AMD had the same yield issues with its Phenom 1, clock speeds were too low. Now may be the bulldozer architecture performs a little less per clock so it can crank up clock speed higher, a la pentium 4. So i should say clock speed will not be as high as they should be to compete with Intel.

That's always been intel success: process. Their 32 nm is over a year old and very mature, the first SB sample that came out clocked high like crazy.

RE: It's very simple
By Jeffk464 on 5/30/2011 4:58:58 PM , Rating: 2
bump 14" to 15.6" and I agree with you.

RE: It's very simple
By Jeffk464 on 5/30/2011 4:59:58 PM , Rating: 1
the e350 makes to much heat for a tablet.

RE: It's very simple
By StevoLincolnite on 5/30/2011 7:17:56 PM , Rating: 2
I have an Intel Atom convertible netbook/tablet and heat wise it's fine, the E-350 wouldn't be to much warmer than that.
Just don't expect paper thin form factors.

Plus you still got the C-50 chip which can drop into a tablet.

RE: It's very simple
By pugster on 5/31/2011 11:30:51 AM , Rating: 2
Agreed. Right now Intel just don't have a niche product between an intel atom and low end intel pentium cpus. So AMD was able to sell these e350's like hotcakes. Intel could've sold their cpu's at a lower price than AMD and complete break them but they don't want to because they will be accused of monopoly. Besides, the profit margins of these apu's are not much anyways compared with intel sandy bridge cpus. As long as Intel has a chokehold on the higher end cpu's and allow amd to make money on the mid/lower tier cpus, both companies are happy.

RE: It's very simple
By stimudent on 5/30/2011 11:15:16 PM , Rating: 4
Intel will probably go to its famous Book of Ethics Violations to make sure that there are road blocks in the marketplace for AMD until it can come up with an answer.

"What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders." -- Michael Dell, after being asked what to do with Apple Computer in 1997

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