AMD readies new Athlon, Duron chips

Keeping the heat on chip rival Intel, Advanced Micro Devices is preparing to ship its next-generation processors

Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) is keeping up the pressure on chip rival Intel AMD will shortly introduce faster Athlon and Duron chips for desktop PCs.

AMD will dog Intel with frequent releases of faster Athlon chips, starting with a 1.2GHz Athlon slated for introduction late this month, sources said.

AMD Chairman and CEO Jerry Sanders stated recently that it's his goal for the company to reach 1.5GHz with a desktop Athlon in January. To meet the goal, AMD will ship faster Athlons approximately every five to six weeks. The 1.2GHz is the next step towards that goal. A faster Duron chip, running at 800MHz, will join it, sources said.

The company is also working to increase overall performance for desktop PCs based on Athlon with a new chipset. The AMD 760 chipset, which will sport a faster 266MHz system bus and support for higher-bandwidth Double Data Rate SDRAM, will be available before the end of the year. The new memory, called DDR SDRAM, offers higher bandwidth than the 133MHz SDRAM used now in AMD PCs. The system bus provides a data pathway between the processor and system components, such as memory.

The chipset and memory improvements, while they will make for faster PCs, will carry only a very small price premium, AMD officials have said.

For lower-cost AMD systems, AMD is expected to introduce an 800MHz Duron chip, along with the 1.2GHz Athlon. Micron Computer was the first major PC maker to announce a Duron-based desktop in the United States, but other PC makers are expected to begin shipping PCs based on the chip shortly.

AMD officials would not comment, citing the company's earnings quiet period. AMD reports earnings a week from Wednesday.

While AMD is hitting on all cylinders, Intel has sputtered of late, with the recall of its 1.13GHz Pentium III and more recently a slip on the launch date of its Pentium 4 chip and the cancellation of the planned Timna low-cost processor.

The company delayed the release of its Pentium 4 chip, which had been expected in the last week of October, until late in November, due to problems with its accompanying Intel 850 chip set. The company's 1GHz Pentium III is just now becoming available in volumes.

See Chips Central for daily hardware news, including interactive roadmaps for AMD, Intel and Transmeta.

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