1 GHz: Intel claims it was first...

In a game of semiconductor one-upmanship, Intel says it was actually first to market with a 1GHz processor, even though Advanced Micro Devices made that claim days ago.
Written by John G. Spooner, Contributor

And it is still unclear which PC maker will be the first to get a 1GHz PC into the hands of a customer.

AMD announced Monday it had shipped its first production-level 1,000MHz (1GHz) Athlon desktop PC processor, thus beating archrival Intel to the 1GHz finish line by two days. But Intel contends it was actually the first to ship a production-level 1GHz chip. Intel officials said Wednesday that the company began shipping 1GHz Pentium III chips a week ago. Intel officially announced its 1GHz chip Wednesday.

But AMD also shipped production-level 1GHz Athlon systems to its PC-maker partners well in advance. Gateway for example, began building 1GHz Athlon systems during the week ending Feb. 28, a company spokesman said. "Our position is that we were the first to ship 1GHz to our partners," an AMD spokesman said Wednesday.

But while the chip makers have been busy shipping out their speedy new processors to their partners, which PC maker will be the first to get a 1GHz system into the hands of a customer? Of the five PC makers who were the first to receive production shipments of 1GHz chips from either Intel or AMD, two are building systems now but only one is actually shipping today to customers.

Gateway began taking orders from customers on Monday. The company will not begin shipping PCs until next Monday. "We're building them now ... but as far as systems to customers, that's Monday," a company spokesman said.

The first 1GHz Gateway PC is expected to arrive on a customer's doorstep at about midweek. Compaq will also ship 1GHz Athlon systems soon, but the company will not begin taking orders via its configure-to-order program until Thursday.

Same thing for Dell which began receiving shipments of 1GHz Pentium III chips from Intel last week. However, the company on Wednesday had not yet begun taking orders on its 1GHz Pentium III-based Special Edition Dell Dimension PC. It expects to begin taking orders on Thursday or Friday, a spokesman said. Lead times after that are expected to be about 10 days.

Could the winner be IBM? It's a tough call. However, it is possible the first 1GHz PC to make its way to a customer could come from Big Blue. IBM began building 1GHz Aptiva desktops late last week in anticipation of taking orders and shipping the machines this week, a company spokesman said.

Hewlett Packard, the third 1GHz Pentium III PC maker, will not ship until next week.

With Gateway on AMD's team, and IBM with Intel, it appears as if the gigahertz race is, again, too close to call. The real winner, at this point, might just be the first person who thought to plunk down the extra money to have a 1GHz system shipped overnight from either IBM or Gateway.

There is a mad, suicidal race to the gigahertz barrier according to Guy Kewney of AnchorDesk UK, go and read the news comment on the AMD/Intel race.

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