AMD takes the wraps off Turion X2 64

Appearing a week later than expected, AMD has announced its Turion 64 X2 processors. The 64-bit dual-core mobile processors will be supplied in a range of clock speeds ranging from 1.6GHz for the entry-level model (TL-50) up to 2GHz (TL-60) for the top-end device with 2MB of L2 cache.

As well as Enhanced Virus Protection and HyperTransport technology, the chips feature AMD’s Digital Media XPress, designed to improve multimedia performance and playback for the likes of games, streaming video and audio, DVDs, and music – areas where Intel has had the better of AMD in the past.

The Turion is AMD’s redesign of processors for laptops, and the company describes the new chips as delivering better multi-tasking performance within thinner and lighter notebook designs.

‘AMD is first to market with the only 64-bit dual-core mobile processor, driving the wave of next-generation mobile platforms that are ready today to run the upcoming 64-bit version of Microsoft Windows Vista,’ declared Chris Cloran, VP of AMD’s Mobile Division. ‘This is advanced mobile technology for the office or home, packing dual-core processing for extreme multi-tasking, 64-bit computing, extended battery life and cutting-edge technology from industry leaders in wireless, connectivity and graphics.’

Cheekily, AMD first demoed the chips back in August 2005 in the middle of IDF, Fall 2005. ‘We are already the first manufacturer to bring dual core technology to the notebook,’ said Bahr Mahony, the division marketing manager of AMD’s mobile business segment at the time, referring to the dual-core X2 inside Voodoo’s Envy Heavyweight laptop.

The company has previously retro-fitted 64-bit processing to the older Mobile AMD Athlon 64 processor range: the 4000+, for example, clocks 2.6 GHz and has 1MB of level 2 cache. The Turion, however, was a ground-up redesign of AMD’s mobile offerings, in the line of the Centrino’s Pentium-M redesign from Intel.

The AMD move is expected to trigger price cuts from Intel, pencilled in for the third quarter according to previous reports on DigiTimes.

Intel of course has made much headway with its own dual-core Core Duo notebook processor – not least through Apple’s conversion to the chip for its MacBook line of notebooks, MacBook consumer debut completes Apple’s Intel move. This, however, is not a 64-bit offering. The 64-bit ‘Merom’ mobile CPU is first scheduled to appear in 1Q 2007.

AMD has also announced that it is bringing 64-bit computing to its value mobile offering, the Mobile AMD Sempron processor family: the Mobile Sempron 3200+, 3400+ and 3500+.

Pricing for the new chips, based on 1,000-unit direct orders, are as follows: the Turion 64 X2 TL-60 is $354, the TL-56 $263, the TL-52 $220 and the TL-50 $184. The Mobile Semprons are $107,$134 and $142 respectively.

What are the advantages of 64-bit processing? In a nutshell, a 64-bit chip is capable of crunching more data in one go (64 bits as opposed to 32) and can address a wider range of memory – theoretically up to 16 terabytes as opposed to the 4Gb of data that can be indexed with 32-bit systems). Also, with a standard x86-based architecture, such chips can seamlessly process existing 32-bit desktop apps, unlike more proprietary 64-bit implementations, such as Intel’s EPIC (explicitly parallel instruction computing) architecture for the Itanium server.

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