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So far AMD has left the netbook market to chip makers Intel and VIA. But with netbooks accounting for as much as 10% of all notebook sales in Europe, it’s not a market that any chip maker can really afford to ignore forever (unless you believe that netbooks are a fad which will die down – which I don’t). AMD CEO Dirk Meyer recently told a group of financial analysts that the company will lay out its strategy for netbooks at a meeting with analysts on November 13th. 

AMD’s head of marketing, Pat Moorhead has been bashing netbooks for months, saying they’re not as powerful as full sized computers, and therefore not as useful.  That would be a completely valid criticism — if netbooks were supposed to be able to play Crysis, edit videos, or perform other CPU intensive tasks. I mean, they are full fledged computers, and they can do those things, but not very well. And I don’t think anybody really expects them to. 

As evidence, Moorhead suggests that he took an MSI Wind with a 3-cell battery on a trip recently and that it just couldn’t handle the tasks he threw at it. What were those tasks? Editing videos, watching 720p video, and watching online video from the NBC Olympics web site. 

First, I don’t know why anyone would need to watch 720p videos on a 1024 x 600 pixel display, but I suppose if you have 720p videos that you don’t want to re-encode, this is fair. Second, he doesn’t say anything at all about what settings his MSI Wind was running at. The computer is capable of running at 800MHz or 1.6GHz. And I’ve seen the Intel Atom CPU handle 720p video just fine when running at full speed. In fact, I just downloaded a video from Microsoft’s WMV DH Content Showcase to double check, and sure enough, it ran smoothly on my Eee PC.

Second, Moorhead claims that he only got an hour and a half of battery life. Kevin Tofel of jkOnTheRun has a Wind with a 6 cell battery. Running at full speed, it gets about 3 hours and 39 minutes of battery power. Divide that in half, and you get 1:50, not 1:30. But that’s beside the point, because when running on power saving mode, Kevin got nearly 5 hours of run time, which means you should be able to get 2:30 from a 3 cell battery if you’re using it for web surfing, reading documents, or other light use. Moorhead seems to have ommitted this fact, only pointing out that the battery life isn’t that good when running at full speed doing the sorts of tasks that of course you would expect a more powerful computer to do better.

Oh, and Moorhead also says the MSI Wind he bought cost $579. But even when MSI first released the netbook, it only cost $499 with a 3 cell battery. The 6 cell version sold for $570. So if he paid $579 for a Wind with a 3 cell battery, he got ripped off. Today, you can pick up a Wind with a 6-cell battery for $530
or a 3 cell version for as little as $399 after rebate.

So it sounds to me like AMD’s been busy making excuses instead of chips. Will that change next month? I guess we’ll know on November 13th.


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8 replies on “AMD to outline netbook plans next month”

  1. Moorhead is an idiot. Not only that but 6-cells last over DOUBLE that of their 3-cell brethren generally – especially the Wind as the mAh in the 6-cell is over double that of the 3-cell battery.

    I blogged on Panasonic and AMD not understanding the category a while back including that Pat MoorHead video. click my name for the link. Its ridiculous how short sighted and narrow minded some of these executive ares.

  2. I definitely welcome as much competition as possible in this space. It’d be awesome to be able to pick up a dualcore netbook with some sort of GMA-trumping graphics chip for a price not too far away from what they’re selling for now.

    I bought the original Eee 701 when it came out, ditched it a month or two later. Picked up a Wind when they came out and have been really happy with it.

    It’s a little underpowered and the screen resolution could take a little bump as well, but apart from those minor things it’s a truly enjoyable computing experience. And for the price I’ve paid for it I won’t feel bad for ditching it again next year for a HP mininote II with a 10″ screen @ 1280×768 and a higher powered processor.

    I find fewer and fewer reasons for powering up my bigger laptop these days. With a 9-cell battery the Wind is an all day ultraportable for a fraction of the price of similar offerings.

  3. I get this weird feeling that Moorhead wont be speaking too much against the netbooks after the November announcement.
    But hey, he’s a marketing guy! That means that his number one talent is the same one as lawyers and politicians: he lies well. He could spin it as meaning that the old cpu’s were took weak and that’s why he ddint like them but that the new AMD chips will make the netbooks usable and how he loves the form factor and belieevs that its an ever expanding market.
    Still, his videos are now legendary considering there is no nudity or shot in the balls in them. He will always be remembered as ‘that guy from AMD”.

    10% of all notebook sales in Europe in one year is better than I would have hoped for especially considering that the majority of release didnt come out until the Taiwan show in June.

    Ordered my Dell Mini and already bought my 2Gb of ram to put in.
    Am reading how to increase output (taking out compression seems to be very popular), what hacks I want to try out and even got myself an Ubuntu live CD which alows you to run it from the CD drive without installing anything so I can get an idea of Ubuntu Linux.
    I wasnt sure about the netbooks at first (I thought the 7inch EEE looked like a cramped toy) but seeing/using my first Acer One and reading this site convinced me.
    Thanks Liliputing.com.

  4. It’s great that AMD has time to complain, but they should spend more time being observant than whiny.

    The Atom is a spec computing platform that many consumers demand, and the explosion of market proves it. Light weight, low power consuming desktop computing on the go, for a reasonable price. Sure, I’d love to have the power of my Quad Core desktop on the go, but I’m reasonable. For now, I can happily work from the porch with a 1.6 GHz Atom+GMA Video hardware running Linux, and not have my legs go numb from the weight and mass of my prior machines.

    Sure, I’d love more, so quit complaining and get on it AMD. Integrate the CPU, an ATI GPU, and the Chipset/NorthBridge in to something that consumes the same power as Intel’s current pack. Cut some corners if you must, but if you and the OEM’s can give me something dual core 6 months from now, I’ll gladly replace my $300 Aspire One with a $400 Mystery device.

  5. Morrhead does have avery valid point when you consider the rise of GP-GPU computing.

    No, we don’t necessarily need to be able to compute a 2GB dataset for hydrogeographic modelling on a netbook, but the day is coming when day to day computing tasks will require GP-GPU to operate properly.

    Rendering the desktop
    Assisting video encoding
    Assisting photo editing

    Apple knows this, which is why they ditched Intel GMA’s for nvidia mGPU’s, what they need for their Snow-Leopard release is a GPU capable of OpenCL and Intel simply isn’t in the game.

    My sincere hope is that HP know this, the logical result of which will be a mininote 2 netbook using the Via Nano cpu paired with the nvidia 9300M mgpu.

    This is why Via announced the partnership with nVidia to use a ‘future’ integrated chipset.

    AMD knows this too, which is the whole point in Fusion, a low power dual core paired with a low power gpu built onto the chip. This is why they have been bashing netbooks until now, because they don’t have a product to compete as yet, but when its ready they will make a big song and dance about the arrival of a new breed of useful netbooks supporting OpenCL for GP-GPU applications.

    This is the future, and its why i haven’t bought a netbook yet, because anything with Atom in it will be obsolete by this time next year, heralded by the arrival of MacOSX Snow Leopard.

  6. I have found that if I don’t manually set the CPU throttling to it ‘s highest level on my Atom Eee, it will choke on 720p video. Otherwise it plays fine.

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