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AMD: Going For The Gold In Tinseltown

It's taking a run at Intel's supremacy in chips as studios gear up for online movies

Charlie Boswell, a 51-year-old former songwriter with shaggy hair, may just be the biggest schmoozer in Hollywood these days. He takes A-list honchos to fancy dinners and makes a concerted effort to be hip in every way. One of his more novel moves: He buys Spy Kids and Sin City director Robert Rodriguez a new guitar after every movie Rodriguez finishes, and sometimes even heads to his Dripping Springs (Tex.) ranch to strum along with him. But Boswell isn't looking for a chance to get one of his songs into a movie or to snag a role. He just wants to sell computer chips to Hollywood.

That's because, as head of the digital media and entertainment unit at Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD ), the No. 2 maker of microprocessing chips, Boswell is on a mission to unseat leading chipmaker Intel Corp. (INTC ) as the longtime preferred supplier to Tinseltown. That someone pushing the latest computer chips has garnered such clout speaks volumes about where Hollywood is now putting its priorities. Today chips power the servers and work stations that help conjure up the scenes of alien attacks in War of the Worlds and generate those elastic moves of Mrs. Incredible. These kinds of computer-generated effects are now the industry's lifeblood. Eight of this year's top 10 box office hits are special-effects-laden or animated projects. And with studios at last willing to move forward with online delivery, chipmakers will play an even greater role. The increasingly heated rivalry between AMD and Intel is beginning to split Hollywood's power brokers into two fiercely loyal chip camps.