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Chip maker Advanced Micro Devices Inc. is rolling out its Sempron line of PC processors, a year after deciding to phase out the low-end Duron desktop chip line.

Although the Duron chips are still sold into emerging markets, the Sempron family eventually will replace that line, according to Bahr Mahony, marketing manager for the Sunnyvale, Calif., company.

The Sempron family, being released on Wednesday, is aimed at systems selling to small and midsized businesses as well as consumers.

The 12 Sempron chips—which cover everything from desktop PCs to laptops to thin-and-light notebooks—will feature a different architecture than the Duron chips, including such features as HyperTransport I/O technology, an on-die memory controller, larger cache sizes and PowerNow capabilities for extended battery life in the mobile systems, Mahony said.

Such technology is necessary as the role of computers in both the home and small businesses is changing, he said.

“The day-to-day computing needs have evolved,” Mahony said. “As late as two years ago, people used their PCs [primarily] for e-mailing, Web browsing [and] spreadsheets.”

Now consumers are using their computers for downloading and listening to music, editing digital photos, and, for enterprises, such tasks as Web conferencing.

Systems running the chips will first appear in China, made by Lenovo Group Ltd., of Hong Kong, the officials said. Other computers running Sempron will begin appearing worldwide later this quarter in systems from companies such as Hewlett-Packard Co. and Acer Corp. The chips will compete with Intel Corp.’s Celeron line.

AMD and Intel are bringing dual-core processing to the x86 arena. Read about it here.

Shane Rau, an analyst with International Data Corp., said the new chips will give users options.

“For SMBs, the effect will be increasing the diversity of choice,” said Rau, in Mountain View, Calif. “Right now you’re going to choose Celeron if you want a value-oriented computer.”

In addition, if companies are looking to become all-AMD shops, they now have a range of processors to choose from, including Opteron for servers, Athlon for high-end computers and Sempron for the low end.

It also is important for AMD to replace the Duron line in the low-end PC space, which last year accounted for about 60 million to 70 million units shipped, Rau said. Having the Athlon processors carry the load as the only PC choice from AMD devalued the chip to some degree, he said.

There are seven new Sempron chips aimed at desktops less than $549, ranging in frequency from 1.5GHz to 2GHz. There also are three mobile chips that consume 62 watts of power for full-size notebooks, and two others that consume 25 watts targeted for thin-and-light laptops, officials said. The mobile chips are for notebooks priced at less than $1,000.

The desktop Sempron models 2200+, 2300+, 2400+, 2500+, 2600+, 2800+ and 3100+ are available immediately. The Mobile Semprons—the 2600+, 2800+ and 3000+ for full-sized notebooks, and Mobile Semprons 2600+ and 2800+ for thin-and-light laptops—will be available next month.

Pricing for the desktop chips range from $39 to $126 per 1,000 units; for the Mobile Semprons, the range is from $85 to $120 per 1,000 units.

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