AMD launches three new Athlon chips

Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD) on Wednesday announced three new microprocessors designed to boost performance in mobile, desktop, workstation, and server computers.

The new chips include AMD's Athlon XP 2100+ for desktop PCs, Mobile Athlon 4 1600+ for notebooks, and Athlon MP 2000+ for servers and workstations.

The desktop XP 2100+ reaches speeds of 1.73GHz and costs US$420 per chip, according to AMD officials. The Mobile Athlon 4 1600+, priced at $380, hits 1.4GHz speeds and the MP 2000+, which can power systems alone or in pairs, climbs to 1.67GHz speeds and costs $415. All prices are based on purchases of 1,000 units.

Hardware manufacturers are keeping pace with AMD by releasing systems based on these new chips almost simultaneously. Compaq Computer Corp., Fujitsu-Siemens Computers BV, and NEC Corp. desktop PCs are available now with the XP 2100+ chip; Racksaver Inc. and Boxx Technologies Inc. are currently delivering systems with the Athlon MP 2000+; and Compaq is now taking orders for notebooks with the Athlon 4 1600+, with retail availability to follow shortly, according to officials with the Sunnyvale, California company.

This vendor support, while not unusual for AMD, shows some early acceptance for the new processors.

"It's showing that they continue to come out with new products and are doing announcements with OEMs (original equipment manufacturer) that are using the chip as well, they're not just throwing the part out there," said Dean McCarron, president of Mercury Research in Scottsdale, Arizona.

AMD's new chips will compete with rival Intel Corp.'s Pentium 4 desktop processor and Pentium III-M and Celeron processors. On Tuesday Intel announced a new version of its multiprocessor Xeon chip for workstations and servers that reaches speeds of 1.6GHz. The nomenclature that AMD now uses for its chips, an initiative it began last fall, is designed to give customers a more accurate sense of performance than simply stating the megahertz, said John Rowe, product marketing engineer with AMD's mobile group. The numbers, such as 2100, represent relative performance, instead of the internal clock speed of the chip.

"It's a good way to communicate to the customer what performance they can expect out of the processor they're buying," Rowe said, adding that after a little skepticism in the beginning, the branding seems to be catching on with OEMs and customers.

AMD will launch its new Athlon processors at the CeBIT trade show in Hanover, Germany.

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