AMD's 750MHz attack - kicks Intel when down

AMD, with a new 750MHz version of the Athlon chip, is now offering PC buyers the highest clockspeed PC processor available. PCs with the new chip will deliver plenty of performance for high-end computing and taxing applications, such as gaming.

AMD, with a new 750MHz version of the Athlon chip, is now offering PC buyers the highest clockspeed PC processor available. PCs with the new chip will deliver plenty of performance for high-end computing and taxing applications, such as gaming.

AMD executives boasted earlier that the company had pulled in the launch date for the new Athlon processor from the first quarter of 2000 to the end of the fourth quarter of 1999. Apparently, they weren't kidding.

Analysts speculated Monday that AMD may be attempting to capitalise on the current market situation, where there is high demand for the top clockspeed chips, but limited supply. Supply, for example, of rival Intel's highest clockspeed Pentium III chips, available in 700MHz and 733MHz speed, is limited, industry sources say. AMD may be able to capitalise on this situation.

Intel, for the record, says it is meeting all of its commitments to deliver high-end chips, but may not be able to meet additional demand.

AMD's new Athlon is its first production 0.18 micron PC processor. The chip is based on a new manufacturing process which, when compared to other Athlons built on .25 micron manufacturing, shrinks the internals of the chip, allowing for increased clockspeed performance and reduced power consumption.

AMD has a number of PC makers lined up to support the new chip. They include Compaq Computer, IBM, Cybermax and "others" the company said. The "others" may include Gateway.

A number of sources confirmed that Gateway plans to introduce in the near future a consumer system based on the Athlon chip. E-mails sent from sales@gateway.com to inquiring customers last week said, "We will be offering the 'Athlon' on December 29th."

Compaq will offer the new chip as part of its "Built for You" program, which allows customers to purchase custom-configured Presario PCs directly from the Houston company. IBM pledged to support the new chip in its Aptiva desktop series as well.

AMD's Athlon chip, introduced last August, is supported by a 200MHz system bus. The newest version of the chip continues to be produced at the company's Fab 25 in Austin, Texas. As AMD brings online its Fab 30, located in Dresdin, Germany, the company expects to deliver even higher performing versions of the chip, leading up to a 1GHz version next year.

While the Athlon will grab all the headlines, AMD also introduced a new K6-2 chip, Monday. The new version of the chip will run at 533MHz. It will be fitted in PCs from manufacturers including a new Presario model from Compaq.

AMD says the new 750MHz Athlon will be priced at $799 (£487) in 1,000 unit quantities, while the 533MHz K6-2 chip will cost $167. Actual street prices on the chips, however, may vary.

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