Optima 64-bit PC aims to hit price sweet spot

Optima's leap into 64-bit computing was inspired by affordability and reliability and not processor performance, according to desktop product manager, Joshua Carr.

The Australian computer manufacturer's WorkPro K8 Series desktop PC, centred around an AMD Athlon 64 processor and Via chipset, is aimed at high-volume, entry-level users such as the education and government sectors.

"A great selling point of 64-bit computing is the future-proofing of the product," Carr said. "The life of a PC is getting longer - people have started to ask us for four- and five-year warranties - and selling a 64-bit platform means an easy migration path to new 64-bit applications when they arrive.

"The education market is, for example, driven by value for money and doesn't require hardcore performance."

Carr expected channel reaction to the machine to boost its sales to match those of its Intel Pentium 4-driven PCs by Christmas.

"We are testing the waters with the entry-level K8 but are looking at launching higher-end machines for video-editing and other performance-based computing," he said.

The WorkPro K8 Series desktop PC is currently listed on Optima's Website under both corporate and MyPC home user sections. The basic package, with standard monitor and Athlon 64 2800+ processor, retails at $1399.

Commenting on the low entry price for the K8, Carr said: "We're keeping the price low on purpose to see how this technology takes off.

"AMD recently aligned its Athlon 64 processor against Intel's Pentium 4. There was once a big gap, with the Athlon being only for the gamers. Now it's part of the mainstream."

Carr said the release of the recent Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2) update meant Optima could push ahead with the launch of a PC capable of running 64-bit applications.

"When we partnered with AMD a few years ago, 64-bit computing was a groundbreaking technology," he said. "Now all our systems are rolling out with SP2 we were able take advantage of a CPU that works in tandem with the operating system."

AMD 64 Enhanced Virus Protection - a feature of the Athlon 64 processor - works in conjunction with SP2 to protect against viruses and worms. It does this by setting portions of system memory aside as data only so any code resident in these areas cannot be executed.

The PC also features AMD's Cool 'n' Quiet system, automatically regulating fan speed and CPU voltage to reduce heat, power consumption and noise.

Compatible with 32- and 64-bit applications, the Athlon 64 processor has been widely responsible for AMD's rise in popularity compared with arch-rival Intel.

Intel is yet to commercially release a 64-bit extension for desktop CPUs, but has ramped up the speed and graphics capability of its Pentium 4 processor, creating the Pentium 4 Extreme Edition.

Carr plans a marketing push of both AMD- and Intel-based systems towards the end of the year.

"We will be aggressively pricing and bundling applications in the run-up to Christmas," he said.

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