AMD's Sanders: More speed on the way

Advanced Micro chief executive says his company is on track to beat Intel and its 'venom' to the punch with 1.2GHz chips and more

Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) is close to announcing a 1.2GHz version of its Athlon microprocessor, as its most senior executive said the company's product rollout plans are running ahead of schedule.

The company is likely to disclose a more detailed timetable in the early fall, according to chief executive WJ Sanders, who in an interview painted a bullish picture of the company's prospects.

AMD has been jockeying with Intel for the bragging rights that come with being the speed leader.

In March, AMD beat its larger rival by being first to market with a 1GHz processor.

And even though AMD's margin of victory was only about a week, it helped burnish a corporate image of a technology leader -- a message that AMD has been able to trumpet on the heels of a string of strong financial quarters.

In the meantime, Sanders said AMD is a couple of weeks away from announcing a list of "major manufacturers" that plan to use the company's newest 1.1GHz Athlon chip.

"They are all familiar names," Sanders said without being more specific.

At the same time, he indicated that AMD has big product rollout plans slated for the fourth quarter. By year's end, he said, AMD will ship a version of its Athlon chip for mobile users.

At the same time, the company expects to offer a line of Athlons targeted at the server market, which happens to be a segment of the computer business that Intel has long dominated.

"What we need to do, of course, is break down the Intel monopoly in big business," Sanders said. "With the forthcoming Mustang [the codename for the server versions of Athlon], we'll make progress there." Unlike years past, when manufacturing problems held down the company's annual chip production, AMD's newest fab in Dresden, Germany, has come online without a snag, according to Sanders.

"It's on a remarkable ramp, and we're very pleased with the progress that we're making there.

"Volume is our vaccine against the Intel venom that stops customers from adopting alternatives," he said.

Intel declined official comment.

However, a company executive who asked to remain unidentified suggested that AMD still faces a challenge selling its line to corporate America.

"Athlon's obviously doing well, but they still have a long way to go with brand evolution and breaking into the enterprise," he said.

"They keep talking about enterprise wins, but you haven't seen much of that."

Surveying the company's prospects -- "all of our worldwide inputs indicate the September quarter should be good, and it's shaping up to be a very strong year," Sanders said -- the chief executive expressed scepticism about the digital appliance craze sweeping through the computer industry.

"I'm not a big fan," said Sanders, offering that the cell phone stands the best chance of supplanting so-called Internet appliances that come down the chute.

"I believe the cell phone will expand its application and... will morph into an Internet access device with capabilities for video and audio."

Still, he said, that segment of the business could account for as much as a half billion dollars in the current calendar year.

See Chips Central for daily hardware news, including an interactive timeline of AMD and Intel's upcoming product launches.

See ZDII for US tech investor news.

See techTrader for more technology investment news, plus quotes and research.

What do you think? Tell the Mailroom. And read what others have said.