AMD delays release of Clawhammer, Barton core

Advanced Micro Devices Inc. will release its Clawhammer desktop processor in the first quarter of 2003, a delay from the prior scheduled release in the fourth quarter of this year, an AMD spokeswoman confirmed.

The company will also delay the release of the Barton core for its currently available Athlon XP processors, until after a new Athlon XP is released with a 333MHz front-side bus in the fourth quarter of this year, said Jen Truong, an AMD spokeswoman. Barton, a new core meant to replace the existing Thoroughbred processor core used in Athlon XP chips, will be available for desktop and mobile processors in the first quarter of 2003, she said.

The two delays are not related, according to AMD. The Clawhammer chip's delay is due to "simply an update" to the processor, said Truong. "Microprocessor design and delivery is a complex process, and this does not represent any problems with the product," she said.

The Barton core release has been delayed due to the performance gains that will be realized from the introduction of a 333MHz front-side bus on the next Athlon chip, Truong said. That move will allow AMD to ramp up to the release of Clawhammer with the introduction of two new Athlon XP chips before the official release.

AMD will start selling the Clawhammer chip in the first quarter of 2003, and the processor is expected to be incorporated in systems for end users by the late first quarter or early second quarter of 2003, Truong said.

Clawhammer "is a brand new architecture and platform, and (AMD) has to get a lot of things right, such as chipsets, motherboards, and CPUs in order to have a successful launch. It certainly would appear that at least one of those wasn't where they felt comfortable," said Nathan Brookwood, principal analyst for market research company Insight 64 in Saratoga, California.

"The long-term impact of the delay is going to be the same for any chip in a fast-paced, highly competitive market: Whatever (performance) advantage they might have had is going to be less than it would have, as Intel moves the Pentium 4 along a regular trajectory," he said.

The Barton core delay isn't as big a deal, Brookwood said.

"Hammer will show up later, with the same level of performance. But Barton will show up later with an increased level of performance (with the 333MHz front side bus)," he said. "They're coming in fast (with Barton), so the long-term competitive advantage doesn't erode."

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Tom Krazit

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