NEC, Sony, and Fujitsu are all putting AMD's just-released Mobile Athlon 4 and Mobile Duron processors into notebook computers.

The three manufacturers last year shared more than half the Japanese PC market. Notebooks using the newest versions of the mobile chip will initially be sold in Japan, according to an AMD spokesperson.

Things are generally looking up for AMD. At the beginning of March NEC said it would ship business machines with AMD chips. And last week Compaq announced plans to offer a notebook with the Mobile Athlon 4 chip, which will challenge Intel's Pentium III mobile chip.

"This is good for [AMD] because they needed to re-establish themselves with these vendors," says Keven Krewell, senior analyst with research firm MicroDesign Resources.

Krewell says the Mobile Athlon 4 fills a gap in the AMD chip line and will compare well with Intel's Mobile PIII processor and its Tualatin chip line. It also accelerates the mobile speed wars between the two leading chip makers. Intel and AMD are both getting a nudge from Transmeta's low-power Crusoe chip.

These moves should mean more firms releasing non Intel-based machines in Europe, increasing competition and, in theory, forcing prices down.

NEC plans to use the 1GHz Mobile Athlon 4 processor in its LaVie G notebook and an 800MHz Mobile Duron processor in the LaVie G and L series.

Sony is working on a Vaio notebook for the Japanese consumer market that features a 700MHz Mobile Duron processor that it expects to ship imminently.

Sony already offers US consumers a Vaio FX210 notebook with the mobile Duron processor. Fujitsu plans to debut in Japan an FMV-Biblio series notebook PC using an 800MHz mobile Duron processor.