It may be low-end, low margin and - if you ask me - low on worth, but paradoxically the netbook sector is a booming multi-billion dollar industry and AMD finally wants a part of it...
The chip giant will expand its Fusion line next year to incorporate a new CPU to compete directly with the Intel Atom.
"If we'd had a part, we'd have been in this space," said ATI company marketing head Nigel Dessau. "We didn't have a part so we went and worked on a part for the thin and light space. The plan is to come to market next year with a Fusion part that fits in it nicely in a netbook type thing."
While the phrase "netbook type thing" isn't the greatest confidence builder, ATI does have two key aces up its sleeve. The first is combination of $1.25bn in compensation and five years of cross licensing with Intel following its successful anti-trust litigation. This helps free AMD of debt and gives it Intel's secrets.
Secondly, AMD can combine any netbook-centric CPU with an ATI GPU "so you won't need Ion graphics to give it half-decent performance" says Dessau. This is notable considering Intel's fight with Nvidia over Ion and - with the failure of Larrabee - its own GPUs lack punch. As for the CPU itself, AMD has already announced Bobcat and Consensus, two ranges with ultra low TDPs which one could form the core of the new Fusion chipset. That said, we'll have to wait and see what the company comes up with.
Can AMD create a genuine rival to the Atom and create a netbook processor that manages to show great efficiency without all the performance prowess of an arthritic corpse? Let's hope so...