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Is Hector Ruiz launching AMD into the business of making PCs? Not exactly. But after getting pummeled by Intel in 2007, the chipmaker wants to have more of a hand in designing them. It's no longer enough to sell chips, a field in which AMD excels technically; one must sell "chipsets" — entire ready-to-go packages of computing parts, including all the silicon a computer needs. Dell, HP, and others will actually manufacture AMD's new "Business Class" desktops and notebooks.

The new branding effort will solve a problem of AMD's own making; with the purchase of ATI, a graphics-chip company, AMD signaled that it was more interested in winning business from videogamers and other consumers. Intel, meanwhile, remained the safe choice for companies to buy; no purchasing executive would blink at approving an order for PCs with Intel inside.

For years, Ruiz tried to beat Intel on technical prowess alone — "multicore" chips, "hyperthreading," and so on. That worked for a while: People were so amazed that AMD, long an Intel copycat, was beating its rival, that they bought more chips, perhaps out of the sheer novelty of it all. That Ruiz is now thinking about how his chips are packaged and sold is wise. But late.

(Photoillustration via Hexus)