AMD Already Missed the MID Boat

OK, so AMD refuses to comment on rumors that it plans to introduce a low-power chip aimed at the mobile Internet device market, where it would compete with Intel’s Atom chipset and offerings from several other rivals. And it refuses to claim a block diagram floated by eeepcnews.de as its plans for such a chip.

I was kind of hoping AMD might stay out of this MID market opportunity and focus on its core CPU business and getting its promising graphics processor and CPU platform off the ground instead of chasing Intel, Nvidia, Via, Qualcomm and Texas Instruments and their hopes for a pocket PC market. Plus, AMD’s been here and done that — back in 2002, when it purchased Alchemy Semiconductor and its line of MIPS-based, low-power personal device chips. That deal was a response to Intel’s Xscale assault, and AMD turned around and sold the Alchemy line in 2005.

AMD did, however, keep the low-power x86 chips for the embedded and personal device market that it purchased from National Semiconductor in 2003. The x86 architecture was more familiar to AMD’s existing chips, and the Geode line is still used in low-power devices, but isn’t very fast and wouldn’t be competitive for the MID opportunity.

It’s surprising that AMD doesn’t have anything better on offer already. Especially given AMD CEO Hector Ruiz’s 50×15 project, which aims to get computers and broadband to half of the population by 2015. An AMD-designed, low-power, high-performance chip would have been perfect for the project and then later for the MID market. However, the One Laptop Per Child laptops AMD is using for the project use a Geode processor. If this diagram represents AMD’s answer to Intel and the gang, why the heck has it waited so long? They had a perfect market for an MID chip and they let it pass them by. If anything, AMD could have sacrificed short-term profits for large volumes if it had to. Its main rival isn’t shy about doing that.

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