AMD unveils pumped-up Duron

Advanced Micro Devices has released a 900MHz version of its Duron processor to try to expand its lead in the budget chip market.

Advanced Micro Devices has released a 900MHz version of its Duron processor to try to expand its lead in the budget chip market.

The Duron, a less-expensive version of AMD's Athlon processor, got off to a slow start when it debuted last year but can now be found in consumer and home-office PCs from a number of major manufacturers.

Compaq Computer is offering the new 900MHz chip in its Presario 5000 desktops.

With the chip, AMD effectively extends its performance lead over Intel in the bargain market. Intel's fastest Celeron processor runs at 800MHz, although an 850MHz version will come out next week.

Another difference: The Duron comes with a 200MHz bus, or data channel, compared with the 100MHz bus that comes with the Celeron. A faster bus typically leads to better performance.

Reviewers and benchmark testers have generally given the Duron high marks for its performance in the budget category.

A mobile version of Duron, code-named Morgan, will appear in June, sources close to the company said.

The 900MHz Duron sells for $128 each in quantities of 1,000. AMD also lopped the price on the 800MHz and 850MHz Durons but, as usual, the retail price is lower than the "official" wholesale price. AMD officially sells the 850MHz Duron for $111 in quantities of 1,000 units. Many retailers, however, are selling single chips for $72 to $81.

The discrepancy comes because AMD usually sells its chips to distributors for less than the actual price. The slowdown in the PC industry has also prompted nearly all component manufacturers to lower their prices.

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