AMD Adds Low-End Duron Chip

The "Model 8" version packs half the cache and a lower price than conventional Durons but delivers clock speeds up to 1.8GHz and a faster front-side bus.

Advanced Micro Devices Inc. this month began shipping a stripped-down Duron processor, the company confirmed Monday, challenging Via Technologies in the market for low-end computing.

The "Model 8" Duron processor, also known to some customers as the "Applebred," contains only 64KB of cache, compared with the 128KB of cache used by conventional Durons. However, AMD has also clocked the new Durons at much higher speeds that approach its mainstream Athlon XP processors for a lower price.

The three new Durons are available in speeds of 1.4GHz, 1.6GHz and 1.8GHz, according to AMD spokeswoman Duyen Truong. The Durons will be marketed at their actual clock speeds rather than using the companys model numbers.

"We are introducing new frequencies to address emerging markets, such as in Eastern Europe and China," Truong said.

Sources close to Sunnyvale, Calif.-based AMD said the company is attempting to maximize its manufacturing yields by introducing the new Model 8s. In many chips, such as DRAM and microprocessors with embedded memory, those memory cells accidentally fail. In such an event, data is rerouted to other sections of the chip.

"The real reason is that, as you know, weve de-emphasized the AMD Duron at 1.3GHz and below," Truong said. "However, demand for these new products has started, and weve added the Model 8 Duron."

The new Model 8 Durons also use a faster 266-MHz front-side bus, compared to the 200-MHz bus of conventional Durons. The front-side bus within AMDs latest Athlon XP chips run at a full 400 MHz.

AMD will continue to sell both the older Duron as well as the new Model 8s as long as customers demand them, the Truong said. On AMDs Web site, the companys processor roadmap indicates that the Duron will be maintained "as (the) market requires". Although AMD expects that the majority of the processors will be sold into regions like China and Eastern Europe, all of the Durons will be sold and supported on a global basis, she said.

Next page: How Model 8 will challenge Via Technologies C3.