New AMD Neo Chips Surface on HP's Web Site

Two new low-power Neo processors from Advanced Micro Devices have surfaced on the Web site of PC maker Hewlett-Packard, which is offering the chips in its ultrathin laptop.

The new dual-core chips belong to AMD's Neo family of processors for thin and light laptops -- also called ultrathin laptops -- which are priced competitively between US$599 and $999. HP is offering the chips in its new Pavilion DV2Z ultrathin laptop, which was officially released on Wednesday.

The AMD Athlon Neo X2 L335 dual-core processor runs at 1.6GHz and has 512KB of cache. The other chip belongs to the Turion line of chips, which are also offered for mainstream laptops. The Turion Neo X2 L625 processor runs at 1.6GHz and includes 1MB of L2 cache.

Both low-power chips are designed to deliver a "balanced performance" in laptops, according to HP's Web site. The DV2Z laptop will offer more processing power and graphics capabilities than its predecessor, the Pavilion DV2, which was launched in January.

AMD puts thin and light laptops like the DV2Z in a category of PCs called "ultrathin" laptops, which provide PC functionality at affordable prices without compromising on features. AMD contends that netbooks, though cheap, provide limited functionality, while ultraportables are too expensive, with prices above $1,500.

The dual-core chips are an upgrade from AMD's first Neo chip, the single-core Athlon Neo MV-40 processor, which was announced in January. The new chips offer close to double the processing performance of their predecessor, AMD executives have said in the past. The Neo chips could face competition from Intel's low-power processors for ultrathin laptops, which are being used by PC makers like Lenovo and MSI.

The new chips get a performance edge from two processing cores that enable quicker application performance. For example, one processing core can run a word-processing application, with the second core running an antivirus scan in the background. With the single-core Neo chip, both applications would be lumped in a single core, which could slow down system performance.

But the additional core also means consumers are paying higher prices for the laptops. A base configuration of HP's DV2Z with a single-core Neo is priced at $625. The price with dual-core chips goes over $700.

The laptop has a 12.1-inch screen and weighs around 3.81 pounds (1.7 kilograms). HP projects a five-hour battery life on a single charge. That is lower than netbooks, which have been known to offer between six and seven hours of battery life due to lower-power processors and smaller screen sizes.

Users will get stronger graphics with discrete or integrated ATI graphics capabilities. AMD claims faster decoding of high-definition content and a better overall multimedia experience than traditional netbooks.

HP provides up to 500GB of storage and an optical drive like Blu-ray. Orders can be placed at HP's Web site, but the company didn't provide an actual ship date. The laptop will come preloaded with Microsoft's Windows Vista OS.

Though better than netbooks, the DV2Z does not include fancy features found in the ultraportable laptops like Dell's Adamo or Apple's MacBook Air. Ultraportable laptops include expensive bells and whistles like solid-state drive storage and processors with higher speeds and cache.

AMD did not respond to requests for comment.

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