AMD introduces K7

Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) today released its Athlon, or K7, processor, which it hopes will make up ground on arch rival Intel.

The Athlon is AMD's seventh-generation microprocessor. The 600MHz version is priced at $US699, the 550MHz Athlon is priced at $US479, and the 500MHz version is priced at $US324, each in 1000-unit quantities, the company said in a statement.

The company will ship thousands of the processors this quarter and expects to ship hundreds of thousands more in the next quarter, according to an AMD spokesman. End-user systems based on the processor are planned to be available in the third quarter.

The Athlon represents AMD's entrance into the market of high-end processors, said the company's chairman and CEO W. J. Sanders. "I wouldn't expect to see the K7 in sub-$US1000 computers," he said."We are trying to hit high-end price points of about $US1200 per machine and above." AMD will not cut prices for the K7, he added.

Until now, Intel controlled the high-priced processor market, which allowed it to cut prices of other, cheaper processors, industry analysts said.

"AMD never had a high-end processor to help offset price reductions by Intel at the low end," said Nathan Brookwood, an analyst at Insight 64, a consulting and research firm.

Intel's processors range from the high end Xeon, to middle range Pentium processors to low end Celerons. Intel has cut prices for the Pentium and Celeron processors, with the Celerons priced as low as $US70, analysts said.

However, AMD's Athlon now offers higher clock speed and performance than Intel's Xeon processor. In addition, Intel's Willamette processor for high performance desktop PCs, slated to match the Athlon, will not be available until sometime next year, said Mel Thomsen, director of consulting and senior analyst with MicroDesign Resources.

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