Samsung to replace Intel with AMD in Origami PC

Samsung Electronics America Inc. plans to change the processor in its Q1 Ultra Mobile PC, replacing a chip from Intel Corp. with one from Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD), according to a published account.

Samsung has seen weak sales for its US$1,100 tablet since launching it in May. Changing the chip could lower the price, making it more appropriate for Samsung’s target market of students, health-care workers and business travellers.

The device — also known by its Microsoft Corp. code name “Origami” — now runs Microsoft Windows on a 900MHz Intel Celeron M ULV (ultra low voltage) chip. Samsung may replace that chip with an AMD processor this fall, according to a story published Monday by Ars Technica.

Being pushed off the Q1 platform would be an embarrassment for Intel, of Santa Clara, California, which has struggled with its earnings in recent quarters as the company lost market share to AMD, of neighboring Sunnyvale, California.

Most of that loss came in the server segment, where AMD’s Opteron chip has outperformed Intel’s Pentium and Itanium offerings. Losing a mobile platform to AMD would look even worse, since Intel has seen great success with its Centrino mobile package for notebooks.

AMD spokeswoman Jessica Kaiser said the company could not comment on the issue. Neither Intel nor Samsung replied to requests for comment.

The move would be a wise decision by Samsung, analysts said.

“The bottom line is that Samsung needs to do whatever it can to increase performance while bringing down the cost,” said Nicole D’Onofrio, a mobile computing analyst for Current Analysis, Chicago. “In terms of looking for a new partner, AMD has a high value offering in its Turion 64 at a very competitive price against Intel.”

Samsung launched the Q1 with an enormous marketing campaign coordinated by Microsoft, whose Origami platform preserves battery life while running Windows XP Tablet PC edition. The computer also has instant on/off so users can listen to music or watch movies without booting Windows.

Samsung’s device is the only one on the market today. Asustek Computer Inc. of Taiwan is planning to release a similar model called the R2H later this summer.

The Q1 is about the size of a handbag, weighing 1.7 pounds with a 40G-byte hard drive and a 7-inch, touch-screen display.

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