AMD cranks up speed on Athlon, Duron chips

Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) has cranked up the speed of its flagship Athlon processor to 1.4GHz, and of its budget Duron processor to 950MHz, the company announced Wednesday.

The new processors, like their predecessors, are compatible with motherboards using the Socket A mounting system. Systems containing the new processors are available immediately from Compaq, according to AMD. The chip company expects systems will also soon be available from other PC manufacturers, including Hewlett-Packard.

The 1.4GHz Athlon processor, with an FSB (front-side bus) running at 266MHz or 200MHz, is priced at US$253 in 1,000-unit quantities, while the 950MHz Duron is priced at $122 in quantity. These prices are at the high end of the range predicted by resellers last week. Limited quantities of the new chips went on sale Friday, ahead of the official launch, in stores in Tokyo's Akihabara electronics district, where the 1.4GHz Athlon fetched up to 36,800 yen ($306) and the 950MHz Duron 14,800 yen.

The faster Duron extends AMD's lead over chip rival Intel Corp. in the low-cost PC market, where the fastest version of Intel's budget chip, the Celeron, runs at 850MHz. However, in the market for high-end systems for which the Athlon is destined, AMD is still playing catch-up: Intel has already introduced a 1.7GHz version of its Pentium 4.

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