New Pavilions show increasing HP support for AMD chips

HP has quietly begun selling a new series of Pavilion PCs, revealing a growing interest in using Advanced Micro Devices' (AMD's) processors in its desktop systems.

Of the nine new a500 series Pavilions, seven use AMD's processors.

Full details about the HP Pavilion a550e, a550y, a530e, a510e, and a500y PCs were available on HPshopping.com, yesterday.

An HP spokesperson confirmed the PCs were currently available.

On HPshopping.com, the a550e and a530e will come with AMD's Athlon 64 processor, while the a510e uses its Athlon XP chip.

The other new Pavilion 500 series systems available on HPshopping.com use Intel's Pentium 4 and Celeron processors.

Four additional a500 series PCs with AMD processors were available through Fry's Electronics' Outpost.com Web page, an industry analyst with ARS, Toni Duboise, said.

HP has been the largest PC vendor to support AMD's chips on the desktop. So far, Dell has declined to do so. The new PCs, along with the release of four HP a500n series PCs with AMD processors, suggested that HP was shifting to the AMD product line for its Pavilion desktop PCs, Duboise said.

"While it is true that HP has been a long time proponent of AMD, the fact that four out of the first [retail] 500 series models sports an Athlon CPU is big news," she said. "Intel is surely not pleased about the exclusion of the Celeron CPUs within HP's mainstream value segment, but ARS feels this move is directly connected to the recent increased success of AMD-powered desktop machines sold within the retail marketplace."

Gateway's eMachines division did very well in retail stores with Athlon 64 and Athlon XP PCs earlier this quarter, and HP did not want to concede that market, Duboise said.

Last quarter, eMachines released an AMD desktop with a multifunction DVD drive for less than $US800 that drew plenty of interest from retail consumers, she said.

HP's new a500n systems weren't always cheaper than their eMachines rivals, but they were close enough in price to take back some of that business, Duboise said.

HP's new product launches as well as the success of the AMD-based eMachines PCs showed that it appeared as if HP was intent on increasing its share of that AMD pie, she said.

However, HP's support for Intel's desktop processors on HPshopping.com remains strong, with Celerons and Pentium 4s included with the majority of the PCs sold under the Compaq Presario brand on HP's website. And the vast majority of HP's notebooks, the fastest growing segment of the PC market, were solidly within the Intel camp.

ARS expects HP to roll out Celeron and Pentium 4 desktops for the retail market soon, as opposed to just selling them directly at its online store.

HP wouldn't want to ignore its historical ties with Intel as well as that company's higher brand recognition among retail customers, Duboise said.

Since July 2003, Intel PCs have made up about two-thirds of the retail market for preconfigured Pavilion PCs, while AMD has captured about one-third of that market, according to data from NPD Techworld.

Data for build-to-order PCs sold through HPshopping.com was not available.

The numbers tended to fluctuate at certain periods, such as the fourth-quarter holiday selling season, director of industry analysis at NPD Techworld, Stephen Baker, said.

"[HP] is pretty willing to use what they think they have to use to remain competitive," he said.

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