Lenovo makes space for AMD chips on ThinkPad laptops

Will help Lenovo offer ThinkPad laptops starting at under $500

Lenovo is looking beyond long-term partner Intel and beginning to offer budget ThinkPad laptops based on Advanced Micro Devices' processors, the company said on Monday.

The company announced a new line of ThinkPad Edge laptops that will include AMD's single-core and dual-core Athlon Neo and Turion Neo processors.

ThinkPad Edge laptops will be priced between US$500 and $800, said Charles Sune, global marketing manager at Lenovo. The first Edge offering, priced starting at $549, will include a 13.3-inch screen. More Edge laptops will be released later this year with screen sizes between 13 inches and 15 inches and either AMD Turion and low-power Athlon Neo chips.

AMD Athlon Neo chips will also be offered in the new ThinkPad X100e ultrathin laptop, which offers the portability of netbooks but adequate performance to run multimedia applications. Priced starting at $449, the laptop weighs under 3 pounds (0.45 kilograms) and includes an 11.6-inch screen.

The X100e will support up to 250GB of hard drive storage, up to 4GB of memory, and include ATI Radeon 3200 integrated graphics. It will offer up to two hours of battery life on a three-cell battery, and five hours on a six-cell battery.

The new laptops will be available immediately and will be on display at the Consumer Electronics Show, which will be held in Las Vegas between Jan. 7 and 10.

"AMD provides us a lot of great price and performance in those lower price points," Sune said. The laptops will provide strong multimedia features and help the company address lower price points, which should complement the overall PC portfolio, Sune said.

Lenovo's commitment to using AMD chips in ThinkPads comes a few weeks after the U.S. Federal Trade Commission filed an antitrust lawsuit against Intel, accusing the chip maker of illegally using its dominant market position to stifle competition and deprive consumers of microprocessor choice. Intel has denied the FTC's claims. Intel is the world's largest chip maker, with its processors going into more than 80 percent of PCs worldwide.

AMD late last year settled a lawsuit with Intel for $1.25 billion after accusing the chip maker of offering rebates that kept AMD from making deals with PC makers.

Convincing Lenovo to use its processors should boost AMD's laptop chip sales and expand its presence in a market dominated by Intel. AMD chips are already offered in PCs by vendors including Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Acer and Toshiba.

Offering chips outside of Intel should also increase the microprocessor choice available to laptop buyers, said Leslie Sobon, AMD's vice president of worldwide product marketing.

"Choice drives a better experience for the consumer. Choice is always a good thing," Sobon said.

Intel's low-voltage chips will be available as an option in ThinkPad Edge laptops, but the X100e will only be AMD-only, Lenovo's Sune said. The Edge laptop will be available with mobile broadband options including WiMax and Wi-Fi.

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