AMD announces Athlon XP 2800+, 2700+, to ship late Nov.

As expected, Advanced Micro Devices Inc. announced its latest desktop processors, the Athlon XP 2800+ and 2700+ in a press conference on Tuesday. Interested buyers will have to be patient, however, as the chips won't ship in systems until late November, AMD said.

The Athlon XP 2800+ and 2700+ are AMD's first chips to ship with a 333MHz front side bus. The front side bus is responsible for carrying much of the data that flows within a PC, and upping the speed at which that data will flow increases overall system performance, said Ed Ellett, vice president of client business for AMD.

Gamers are the intended target of the new processors, and AMD hopes they will boost its fortunes headed into the important holiday buying season. AMD brought out some of its partners for gaming systems, including graphics company Nvidia Corp. and developer Epic Games Inc., to tout the chip's benefit for gaming systems.

But the two-month lag time between announcement and availability could sap AMD's momentum headed into the fourth quarter. A number of hardware enthusiasts have registered their disappointment over the wait for the widespread availability of the last processors to be announced by AMD, the Athlon XP 2600+ and 2400+, in late August.

In AMD's press release announcing the 2600+ and 2400+ processors, the company said it had already begun shipping samples of the processors to PC makers, and availability in systems was expected in September. However, AMD began shipping those processors to PC manufacturers in late September, and worldwide system availability is expected in the fourth quarter, said Patrick Moorhead, vice president of customer advocacy for AMD, during Tuesday's conference call.

Delays have also plagued the introduction of the next two steps on AMD's road map. Its higher-cache Barton chips were pushed back to the first quarter of 2003, and the launch of its 64-bit Hammer processors was delayed until the first half of 2003.

While the delays hurt from an image standpoint, it doesn't represent a huge hit to AMD's bottom line, said Nathan Brookwood, principal analyst for market research company Insight 64 in Saratoga, California.

"People are not buying the high-end machines in large numbers, people are buying lower down the line, and AMD has plenty of products at the low and medium ends of its product line," he said. But the image of a company's high-end products is important, as customers will have more confidence in purchasing its lower-end technology if a company's high-end products are favorably viewed, he said.

The 2800+ processor will only be available in a limited number of systems from niche PC makers such as ABS Computer Technologies Inc., Alienware Corp., Falcon Northwest Computer Systems Inc., MicronPC LLC, and Voodoo Computers Ltd. in late November.

This represents a change in marketing strategy by AMD, said Moorhead. Those companies focus mainly on the gaming market for PCs, and will allow AMD to target its core audience of gamers more efficiently, he said.

Samples of both processors are now shipping to PC manufacturers, and other systems featuring the 2700+ should be available by late November as well, AMD said.

The Athlon XP 2800+ will run at 2.25GHz, and is priced at US$397 in 1,000-unit quantities, while the 2700+ will run at 2.167GHz, and cost $349. AMD cut prices on the rest of its processor line on Tuesday, as is customary when a chip maker introduces new products.

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