If you've ever felt that buying a computer based only on tech specs was like buying a
based only on what's under the hood, a new Advanced Micro Devices approach to computers containing its chips could be for you. On Thursday, the chipmaker announced a new branding effort called Vision Technology, which will emphasize the whole computer system, and especially the "superior visual experience."
Nigel Dessau, chief marketing officer at AMD, said consumers care "about what they can do with their PC, not what's inside." These days, he said, they want HD and entertainment, which AMD's CPUs and graphics processing units (GPUs) can deliver, adding that the user wants to make the choice "without having to understand what gigahertz and gigabytes mean."
'Heart' and 'Soul'
The branding effort is an attempt by AMD to convert its position as "the only technology company in the world that creates both leading-edge processors and graphics solutions" into a value proposition consumers can appreciate. A processor, the company said, "is a computer's heart," while "graphics is its soul."
Beginning in the holiday season and timed to coincide with the release of Microsoft's Windows 7 operating system, notebook PCs with AMD chips will be marketed as having Vision Technology.
Among other things, the chips support new graphics capabilities that will be available in Windows 7. These include more lifelike images because of more polygons per image, multi-threaded rendering for processing along different paths in a dual-, triple-, or quad-core CPU, and DirectCompute, which provides easier access to parallel processing in a GPU.
Three Levels of Vision
AMD will promote three levels of Vision Technology. Computers featuring the "everyday use" level, simply called Vision, support Web surfing, music listening, watching photos and videos online, and e-mail.
Computers branded as Vision Premium have the ability to convert videos so they can be watched on a portable media player, convert CDs to MP3 files, play games, and use a Webcam. Some of these computers will also offer graphics that can provide full 1080p HD video support.
The current top end is Vision Ultimate. Those systems can record live TV, play graphics-rich online games, edit and mix music, create HD movies and play Blu-ray high-definition DVDs, do advanced photo editing, and create podcasts. Ultimate systems will also include AMD Fusion Media Explorer, a tool for managing music, movies, photo collections, and live TV.
A fourth level of systems, Vision Black, will be introduced in the first quarter next year. It will feature high-end capabilities for enthusiasts and will primarily be available on desktop PCs.
Richard Shim, an analyst with industry research firm IDC, said other companies have also begun to emphasize usage instead of specs, but AMD is the first chipmaker to do so. "Chipmakers have been all about 'faster, faster, faster,'" he said, but now "it makes sense" to focus instead on features that a user might want.