Intel, AMD each plan 'combination' chips

Merging microprocessors, graphics processing units will speed computers, lower cost

Chip makers Intel and Advanced Micro Devices each plan to announce at January's Consumer Electronics Show a "combination" chip which includes microprocessors that power PCs and graphics processing units.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the combination chip theoretically would speed up computing tasks, cut production costs and allow manufacturers to build smaller machines. All of which would give consumers more bang for their buck: Such integrated chips are expected to allow low-priced systems to carry out tasks that currently add hundreds of dollars to the price of a personal computer, such as the ability to play high-definition movies and videogames and to convert video and audio files to different formats quickly. According to Intel CEO Paul Otellini, the new chips, using a design referred to as "Sandy Bridge," will "change the way people build PCs and buy PCs." Intel is using Sandy Bridge to revitalize its flagshop Core line of microprocessors. AMD will unveil its combination chips at CES, targeting them at lower-priced laptops, thus avoiding direct competition with Intel's Core, which powers higher-priced machines. AMD does plan GPU circuitry for its higher-end Fusion chips sometime next year.

Chris Nerney writes about the business side of technology market strategies and trends, legal issues, leadership changes, mergers, venture capital, IPOs and technology stocks. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisNerney.

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