AMD in chip onslaught

www.infoworld.com |  Hardware

TAIPEI, TAIWAN -- Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) used the opening day of the Computex trade show here to launch a slew of new processors, including high-end Athlons running at clock speeds up to 1GHz. The company also said it is now shipping the first members of the new low-cost Duron family of chips.

The 12 new Athlon processors are based on a new design, formerly code-named Thunderbird, featuring 256KB of on-chip, performance-enhancing Level 2 cache memory. Running at 750MHz, 800MHz, 850MHz, 900MHz, 950MHz, and 1GHz, the processors are available in both Slot A and a new Socket A packaging.

Compaq and Hewlett-Packard showcased systems powered by the new Athlons here at the launch event. Several other system vendors, including Gateway 2000 and IBM, are also readying systems featuring the new Athlon processors, AMD said.

In addition, several Taiwan-based motherboard manufacturers, including Asustek Computer, First International Computer, and Giga-Byte Technology also showed off new boards based on the Socket A architecture.

AMD also introduced the first members of its Duron family of processors, which are aimed at value-conscious business and home users, company officials said. The Durons, which AMD is shipping now in volume to major customers, run at clock speeds of 600MHz, 650MHz, and 700MHz. The formal launch of the Duron processors is scheduled for later this month, officials said.

"We now have the strongest product portfolio in our company's 30-year history," said Hector Ruiz, president and COO of AMD. "And [Athlon and Duron] both outperform the competition at their respective price points," Ruiz said, in a thinly veiled reference to arch-rival Intel.

Having already become a force in the consumer PC market, AMD is now aiming to make inroads into the corporate market, Ruiz said. "The enterprise market is a high priority for AMD this year," he said.

For the Socket A versions of the processors, AMD will initially rely on chip-set support from Via Technologies. The Taipei-based chip vendor's new KT133 chip set supports the 200MHz front side bus of the Athlon and Duron processors, as well as other advanced features such as 4x AGP (Accelerated Graphics Port) and PC133 memory, said Chen Wen-chi, president and chief executive officer of Via Technologies.

"Volume shipments of the KT133 will begin this month," said Chen in a presentation Monday at the AMD event.

Silicon Integrated Systems, another Taiwan-based chip developer, is readying a chip set, the SiS730, that will support AMD's Socket A processors, officials said.

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