Intel-based netbooks are arguably the most talked-about platforms to date. AMD finally has an answer to them: the Athlon Neo.
Monday night, AMD launched its Yukon platform at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), consisting of the AMD Athlon Neo processor and either an ATI Radeon HD 3450 discrete GPU or the X1250 integrated graphics.
While the platform won’t compete with the likes of the MSI Wind, the ASUS eeePCs, and the rest of the netbook market. AMD has said it believes that there’s a void that needs to be filled in the 12- and 13-inch space (referring to the size of the screens), and netbooks are too small and aren’t providing the profit margins the company needs to succeed in this space. In layman’s terms, AMD wants to offer its customers an oversized netbook for under $1,000.
The Athlon Neo is supposed to be the equivalent of the Intel Atom processor, only it’s much larger and less energy efficient, which is why the company is targeting laptops that are bigger but are still considered ultraportables. It will designate a line of "slim and stylish" notebooks, according to Bahr Mahony director of notebook product marketing for AMD.
The Neo’s footprint measures 27 mm by 27 mm and has a thermal envelope of 15 watts. Compared to the Atom’s 22-by-22 mm footprint and its 2.5W thermal envelope, you can see why the Athlon Neo’s not really meant for anything that has a sub- 12-inch screen. At this launch, there will be a single Neo variant—the 1.6GHz Ahtlon Neo, and one of the first laptops to showcase it is the HP Pavilion DV2. Similar notebooks will cost between $699 and $899, Mahony said.
Since the Neo is a larger package than the Atom, expect performance scores to be better than those of netbooks: 2.5 times faster than a 1.6-GHz Atom and GMA 950 platform, although 30 percent slower than a 1.6-GHz Core 2 Duo, which is also considerably more expensive.
The single-core Athlon Neo processor features a 512MB L2 cache, Direct X 9 graphics, and support for 667MHz DDR2 memory.
Like all platforms, whether AMD or Intel, the processor makes up a portion, albeit a huge one, of the Yukon platform. The graphics subsystem is the other part. A Neo laptop will be paired either with the ATI Radeon HD 3450—a discrete GPU for light 3D applications, games, and high-definition video—or ATI Radeon X1250 UMA graphics, for better battery life. There isn’t a wireless component, as is common in Intel platforms. As always, AMD will leave it up to third-party players like Atheros and Broadcom to address this void.