AMD Ships Rival to Pentium 4

The 32-bit Athlon XP 3000+ desktop chip boasts a 333MHz front-side bus, 640KB of on-die cache memory and 2.1GHz of speed.

Advanced Micro Devices Inc. continued its aggressive first-quarter rollout of new processors on Monday, unveiling its long-awaited Athlon XP 3000+ desktop chip.

The 32-bit chip, code-named Barton, is part of AMDs push to chip away at Intel Corp.s dominance. The 3000+, with a 333MHz front-side bus, 640KB of on-die cache memory—512KB of Level 2 cache and 128KB of L1 cache—and 2.1GHz of speed, is designed to compete with Intels Pentium 4 line.

The launch of the 3000+ follows the release of the 32-bit 2600+ server and workstation chip earlier this month and precedes the upcoming rollout of the Sunnyvale, Calif., companys 64-bit Hammer architecture. The first release of that will be with the April 22 rollout of the Opteron server chip, followed by the release in September of Athlon 64—code-named Clawhammer. Originally scheduled for release late last year, Athlon 64 was then set for release in the first quarter this year. However, some technical problems and the launch of the 3000+ and the upcoming 3200+ in the middle of 2003 convinced AMD officials to delay the Athlon 64 chip until the fall.

The Barton chip—which was built using the 0.13-micron process and will sell for $588 in 1,000-unit quantities—itself initially was scheduled for release last year, but it too was delayed. AMD has given no reason for the delay.

The 3000+ keeps with the companys mantra of making things easier for OEMs and users of AMD-based systems. For example, Opteron, designed to compete with Intels 64-bit Itanium chips, is backward-compatible, allowing it to run 32-bit or 64-bit applications. Itanium, an entirely different architecture than Intels 32-bit Xeon chips, features limited compatibility.

"The key thing [about the 3000+] for commercial enterprises is the Socket A infrastructure," said Mark Bode, senior brand manager and launch manager for desktop devices.

The 3000+ fits into the same space—the 462-pin Socket A infrastructure—as current Athlon XP chips. That means that enterprises dont have to change their systems to get the 3000+s increased performance; the chip simply can be swapped in with current Athlon XP chips, enabling users to keep the systems theyve already invested in, Bode said.

As part of the rollout, AMD also launched a new "family logo" design that AMD officials said will better differentiate the companys various brands, such as Athlon XP, Opteron and Athlon 64.