AMD breaks speed barrier with 1GHz Athlon

Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (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 Computer and Gateway, will get first dibs on the speedy new processors, Steve Lapinski, director of product marketing at AMD's Computation Products Group, said. The chip maker is scheduled to start volume shipments of the 1GHz Athlons to other PC vendors and the general market first 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 $US2,999 Select 1000 model. Compaq, meanwhile, later this week will start taking orders for a1 GHz Athlon-powered Presario 5900Z desktop PC. [See "Compaq, Gateway Rush Out PCs with 1GHz Athlons," March 6.]The AMD Athlon processor is manufactured using AMD's aluminum 0.18-micron process technology, features an advanced microarchitecture optimized 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.

In a statement, AMD Chairman and Chief Executive Officer 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 $1,299 in 1,000-unit quantities. The 950MHz and 900MHz Athlon chips, also announced yesterday, will cost $999 and $899 in 1,000-unit quantities, AMD said.

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