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Low-end CPUs get big push from HP, Dell

Posted: 20 Apr 2009     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Atom-based netbooks  low-end CPUs  low-cost desktop 

Low-end CPUs are getting a big push as Dell Inc. struck a deal to sell its latest Intel Atom-based netbooks through China's top cellular carrier, and rival Hewlett-Packard unveiled a new line of thin-client computers, most based on Via's x86 processors. The announcements reinforce growth in low-end systems consumer and business computing especially in emerging markets.

Dell aims to ride China's still strong growth in cellular, striking a deal with China Mobile Communications Corp. to sell versions of the Dell Inspiron Mini 10 netbook with built-in 3G wireless. China Mobile claimed it had more than 47 crore subscribers at the end of February 2009, and added 1.6 crore so far this year. The carrier gained 66 million new subscribers in the first nine months of 2008 when it reported revenue of about Rs.2.20 lakh crore ($44 billion).

China now has more Internet users than any other nation, about 29.8 crore, according to the China Internet Network Information Centre which does a Web user survey every six month commissioned by the China government. The latest survey said most users in China access Internet from home (78.4 per cent) or Internet cafes (42.4 per cent) rather than the office (20.7 per cent). Desktop PCs are most often used to get on the Web (88.4 per cent), followed by mobile phones and laptops, the report said.

Relatively low-cost netbooks are expected to grow rapidly in China as a new way to get on the Web. Interestingly, the Dell systems actually list at a higher price in China (about Rs.28,240.50 ($568)) than they do in the United States (about Rs.22,323.92 ($449)).

Dell has experimented with hybrid notebooks using a so-called Blacktop module, but so far it has not indicated any plans to build an emerging class of lower cost ARM/Linux-based portables. The systems sold by China Mobile all use Intel's Atom and Microsoft Windows XP.

Thin-clients roll
For its part, rival HP Thursday rolled out a new line of thin-client computers, aimed as low-cost desktop replacements for business users.

The HP line-up includes seven systems based on x86 CPUs from Taiwan's Via Technologies Inc., two using the C7 and five using versions of Eden. Five systems use either Advanced Micro Devices' Turion or Sempron CPUs and just one uses an Intel Celeron.

HP has been using Via processors on thin clients for a few years. It also uses a Via CPU in its HP 2133 netbook announced in 2008.

The new thin clients range widely in price from a Rs.9,894.12 ($199) unit using a 500MHz Via Eden to Rs.39,775.35 ($800)+ laptop models using the AMD processors. Most range in the Rs.14,915.76 to Rs.22,373.64 ($300 to $450) area. They use a variety of Windows XP, Windows Embedded and CE OS.

Earlier this month, start-up Teradici Corp. announced it closed a Rs.84.52 crore ($17 million) series C funding round to help market its thin client chips and develop a new offering for consumers and small businesses. Telus, a large Canadian carrier participated in the funding and a Telus executive joined the Teradici board.

- Rick Merritt
EE Times

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