AMD Athlon XP Palomino Already for Sale on Web

AMD's Athlon XP is alive and for sale on the Web in advance of its launch October 8.

Advanced Micro Devices Inc.s Athlon XP is alive and for sale on the Web in advance of its launch Oct. 8.

Web merchants are already advertising AMDs new desktop processor, also known by the code name "Palomino," for sale on the Internet. On all of the postings, the vendors say the processors are expected on either Oct. 7 or Oct. 8, the day AMD will launch the new processor in San Francisco, a spokeswoman for Advanced Micro Devices Inc., Sunnyvale, Calif., confirmed Wednesday.

At the launch, AMD chairman W.J. "Jerry" Sanders III will give further details about the companys new "Model" initiative, which will attempt to market the Athlons clock-for-clock performance advantage over the Intel Pentium 4.

According to, AMD has begun shipping three version of the Athlon XP to distributors and channel resellers: the so-called "Model 1800", "Model 1600", and "Model 1500" microprocessors. The new Athlon XPs actually run at 1.53-GHz, 1.4-GHz, and 1.3-GHz, respectively. The Model 1800 will sell for about $260; the Model 1600 will Model 1500 will be priced at about $165 and $155, respectively, according to the retailers.

A spokesman for MicroPro Inc., a retailer in Cleveland, Ohio, said he had received "a few" of the Model 1800 processors on Monday. "But I see by the purchase order that weve got an order for 200 more," he said.

AMDs model numbers attempt to help users makes sense of the complex relationships between clock speed, bus speed, instructions per clock, and the different abilities of different processors to process different types of calculations. In concept, the model scheme is similar to the "performance ratings" or PR ratings adopted by both AMD and Cyrix as part of their earlier Pentium-compatible microprocessors.

"If you think about the history of the X86-microprocessor-based PC, for the first generations we were based upon the same architecture," said Aaron Feen, AMD product planning and market development manager for AMD, in August."The fundamental difference was frequency."

For each successive generation, Feen said, the architectures of the two companies have diverged to the point "where frequency does not tell the whole story about which processor is the fastest."

According to sources, however, AMD has used 14 benchmarks covering 34 different applications to determine the model numbers, with equal weight given to performance in visual computing, gaming, and office productivity software. The benchmark results were normalized to demonstrate head-to-head competitive comparisons; for example, the AMD Athlon Model 1800 results were normalized to the 1.8-GHz Pentium 4.

Within each software category, AMD selected a range of industry-standard benchmarks. In productivity, AMD used the Business Winstone 2001 and SysMark 2001 benchmarks. In visual computing, AMD included Content Creation Winstone 2001 and SysMark 2001 Internet Content Creation. AMD finally chose a collection of game titles—the Half-Life Smokin demo, Expendable, Quake 3, AquaMark, Dronez Generic, Unreal Tournament, Evolva, and MDK2—together with the 3DMark 2001 hardware transform-and-lighting and Direct3D software tests to demonstrate the Athlon XPs game performance.