HP puts Athlon in, but not in Canada

A new PC for business users from Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP) will feature Advanced Micro Devices Inc.’s (AMD’s) Athlon XP processors, and cost less than US$700, the companies announced Monday, but companies in Canada will not yet be seeing the workstation.

The Compaq D315 uses nForce Platform Processors from Nvidia Corp. for graphics. Users will be able to choose from AMD’s Athlon XP processor family, which tops out with the 1.8GHz Athlon XP +2200. A base configuration of the PC with a 1.67GHz Athlon XP 2000+ processor, 128MB of double data rate (DDR) synchronous dynamic RAM (SDRAM), a 20GB hard drive, a CD-ROM drive, and six USB ports is priced at US$649 with Microsoft Corp.’s Windows XP Home. Users who opt for Windows XP Professional will pay US$50 more, but all buyers will receive a US$100 rebate for a limited time.

“This particular product will set a new benchmark as far as price-performance in the commercial desktop market,” said Kevin Knox, director of enterprise segment marketing and business development for North America at AMD. The cheapest business PC previously offered by HP is the Evo D310, which sells for US$710 on HP’s Web site with a 2.0GHz Intel Pentium 4 processor.

With many corporations forced to pay more in software licensing fees as a result of new licensing programs from, the money gets taken out of the hardware budget, said Rob Enderle, research fellow at Giga Information Group Inc. in Santa Clara, Calif. Businesses that still need to deploy new hardware have less money on hand, also as a result of declining IT budgets, and are looking for the lowest cost PC that still meets their performance requirements, he said.

Some companies have already started to use PCs based on AMD technology. “We had seen data from analysts that AMD had a fifth of the business market,” without its products featured in a PC from a large, global vendor, such as IBM Corp. or Dell Computer Corp., said Louis Kim, director of marketing for HP business PCs.

This PC “is targeted right at Dell’s heart,” Enderle said. Most vendors can’t compete with Dell on price due to the Round Rock, Tex., company’s efficient ordering and assembly system, he said. But by choosing a cheaper AMD processor, HP can sell this machine for a lower cost without inviting a response from Dell, he said.

Dell has a very close relationship with Intel, Enderle said, and it would be difficult right now for the company to move to AMD processors because “they are the most Intel-generic supplier on the market.”

While the Compaq D315 is available in the U.S. as of Monday and will be available worldwide by September, HP Canada has chosen not to ship the product at this time. Instead, the Mississauga, Ont.-based company said in a statement that “it has chosen to further evaluate the demand for an AMD-based business desktop in the Canadian marketplace. HP Canada will make a decision on when, if and how to introduce the Compaq D315, based on the measured response from Canadian business customers to the launch announcement made today in the U.S.”

-With files from IDG News Service