Breaking into the market for processors used in handheld computing devices, AMD has shipped pre-production samples of its Alchemy Au1100 processor, a low-power chip designed to be used in mobile and handheld devices.

The move follows the recent brouhaha around Intel's latest XScale architecture chips for mobile devices that run far faster than current PDA-like device chips.

The Au1100 is a follow-on chip to the Au1000 processor that AMD acquired when it bought Alchemy Semiconductor in February, an acquisition seen by analysts as an important step for the company to break out of its traditional focus on desktop and mobile PC processors into embedded processors used in handheld devices.

Able to run at speeds ranging from 333MHz to 500MHz, the Au1100 includes a MIPS32 processor core, an on-chip LCD (liquid crystal display) controller, a 10/100 Ethernet controller and a USB device and host controller.

The processor is able to run a variety of operating systems commonly found on handheld devices, including Microsoft's Windows CE (and so Pocket PC) and Linux, AMD said.

Both Intel and AMD see great potential in the market for low-power, high-performance chips used in handheld computing devices, a view matched by recent European IT Observatory figures.