AMD breaks speed barrier with 1GHz Athlon

AMD breaks speed barrier with 1GHz Athlon

Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) yesterday began shipping its latest Athlon processor, the first Intel x86-compatible chip to run at a speed of 1GHz, the company announced yesterday.

AMD's launch partners, Compaq and Gateway, will get first dibs on the speedy new processors, Steve Lapinski, director of product marketing at AMD's Computation Products Group, said in a conference call with media and analysts. The chip maker is scheduled to start volume shipments of the 1GHz Athlons to other PC vendors and the general market in April, he added.

AMD expects to have no problem fulfilling demand for the speedy new chips, Lapinski said.

The first commercially available systems based on the 1GHz AMD Athlon processor are available immediately from Gateway, which in the US is taking orders now for the $US2999 Select 1000 model. Compaq, meanwhile, will later this week start taking orders for a 1GHz Athlon-powered Presario 5900Z desktop PC.

The AMD Athlon processor is manufactured using AMD's aluminum 0.18-micron process technology, features an advanced microarchitecture optimised for high-clock frequency and the industry's first fully pipelined, superscalar floating point unit for x86 platforms, AMD said. The AMD Athlon system bus runs at 200MHz with support for scalable multiprocessing, the company said.

AMD chairman and CEO Jerry Sanders described the breaking of the 1GHz speed barrier as a watershed event for the personal computer industry but the company's lead may turn out to be short-lived. Intel is committed to launching a 1GHz microprocessor by the end of June and weekend press reports suggested an even earlier launch.

The 1GHz Athlon will cost $US1299 in 1000-unit quantities. The 950MHz and 900MHz Athlon chips, also announced yesterday, will cost $999 and $899 in 1000-unit quantities, AMD said.

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