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.
Taking on Via Technologies
The upshot is that Via Technologies, whose C3 processors have enjoyed wide acceptance in Asia and other areas of the world, now has a strong challenger in the Model 8 Durons, said Dean McCarron, an analyst with Mercury Research.
“There is a market thats been established well below current price points,” McCarron said. “Via is frequently successful in products (priced) as low as $30.”
Via, of Taipei, Taiwan, recently announced a 1GHz version of its C3 processor, priced at $45 per processor in 10,000-unit lots. The C3 includes a hardware-based random-number generator, a feature AMDs processor family lacks.
“Vias market strength is not here in the U.S. but in developing markets that have elasticity in their buying decisions,” McCarron said. Typically, an overseas buyer will be interested in the combination of a motherboard and processor, where Vias in-house board and chipset line has an advantage. But the nature of that marketplace generally forces a buyer to choose the cheapest solution available, he said.
AMD referred pricing questions to the companys main distributor, Avnet Applied Computing of Phoenix, from which pricing information was not immediately available. According to AMDs Ukrainian Web site, however, the 1.4GHz, 1.6GHz and 1.8GHz Model 8 Durons cost $32, $39, and $47, respectively. AMDs 1.3GHz Duron is priced at $44, and its 2000+ Athlon XP costs $66, according to AMDs official price list.