In a bold move against rival Intel, AMD introduced a new chipset on Wednesday that includes graphics technology it acquired along with the purchase of ATI for $5.4 billion. In the first of a line of new chipsets, the AMD 690 combines the capabilities of the AMD CPU and platform technology with the ATI Radeon X1250 GPU.
The new AMD 690 is designed to allow electronics manufacturers to build products that can connect PCs directly to large-screen TVs and monitors. And, according to AMD, the chipset has been created with Windows Vista in mind and will be available in more than 30 motherboard designs.
"Consumers want something new and faster," said Brian Matus, a vice president at IC Insights. "Chipmakers have to be able to adapt quickly to meet consumer needs, and this chipset offers some startling graphics that moves AMD ahead of Intel."
Matus said he expects Intel to develop a similar technology in-house or partner with Nvidia to match AMD in the coming months.
The AMD 690 series is designed for graphics-intensive applications, such as Aero, the new 3D user interface in the high-end versions of Windows Vista.
In a statement, Dave Wascha, director of partner marketing for Windows Client at Microsoft, pointed out that the AMD 690 is one of the first chipsets with motherboard graphics to receive the Certified for Windows Vista logo. Wascha also said ATI Radeon graphics deliver "excellent" Windows Vista performance.
In addition to being tuned for Windows Vista, the AMD 690 chipset also offers support for high-definition content with integrated HDMI capabilities along with DVI out. And the chipset is designed to protect content with on-chip HDCP (high-bandwidth digital content protection) support.
Crossing the Line
The dividing line between consumer, corporate, and communications chip applications are beginning to blur, or at least overlap, IC Insights' Matus said, noting that AMD is engaging in an industry trend to leverage high-end chip technology at consumer levels.
"When chipmakers find a chip and graphics combination that works super well on the PC environment, they are bringing some of that technology and implementing that for a larger screen and more complex system perhaps," Matus noted.
Alternatively, he added, chipmakers can downsize their innovations and make the technology more useful for handheld and portable applications. Matus predicted that more of this technology would be "blending" as the industry moves forward.
According to AMD, the new AMD 690 chipset will be widely available on motherboards from major manufacturers, including Albatron, ASUS, Biostar, EPoX, Foxconn, Gigabyte, and Sapphire.