Advanced Micro Devices Inc. will roll out its fastest processors yet, the Athlon XP 2800+ and 2700+, during a news conference on Tuesday, according to sources close to the company.
The new chips, in addition to running at higher frequencies than the current top-of-the-line 2600+, will feature a 333MHz front side bus, which should enable the 2800+ to perform about 10 percent faster than the 2600+ with its 266MHz front side bus.
AMD, of Sunnyvale, Calif., moved up the launch date from mid-October, sources said, to give it “breathing room” to promote its chips before rival Intel Corp. releases its 3GHz Pentium 4 late next month, as well as to assure that computer makers feature the chips in their high-end PCs during holiday promotions.
However, the fourth-quarter outlook for both chip makers, who have continued to suffer from sluggish sales, is not very bright right now, said market analyst Jonathan Joseph of Salomon Smith Barney in San Francisco.
“We expect some seasonal uptick, but its not going to be as strong a pickup in sales as weve traditionally seen during the holiday season,” Joseph said.
AMD declined to comment on whether it will announce the two chips next week, but the company has confirmed that it has scheduled a news conference Tuesday that will be broadcast over the Web. The link will be posted on AMDs site next week.
AMD will also tout its True Performance Initiative during the Webcast, a program it launched in October 2001 that aims to promote the use of benchmarks rather than processor frequencies to compare its chips to other products, specifically Intels Pentium 4. Currently, the fastest Pentium 4 running at 2.8GHz operates about 700MHz faster than the 2.1GHz Athlon XP 2600+, but that frequency gap is misleading, AMD and industry analysts have said.
Overall, Pentium 4 chips process less amount of data per clock cycle than Athlon XP processors, a difference that arose when Intel switched from the Pentium III to Pentium 4 design. But while theres widespread agreement that AMDs design does more work per clock cycle, how much effect that has on performance remains debatable.
: AMD to Unveil Two Athlon Chips”>
For its part, AMD has stopped promoting the actual frequencies of its chips and instead touts its product labeling as a guide to how its chips perform. Therefore, AMD contends its 2800+ would offer comparable performance to a 2.8GHz Pentium 4.
While AMDs labeling strategy has been successful in convincing consumers its products remain competitive with Intels, based on the chip makers ability to sustain market share, the perceived performance gap between Intel and AMD products will likely increase with the release of Intels 3GHz chip, Joseph said.
“The 3GHz really adds to AMDs problems,” he said. “Theyre very dependent on Clawhammer (the code-name for the 64-bit PC chip) to show that they have a high-end roadmap.”
However, AMD apparently is having problems with its first 64-bit processor, disclosing last week that the launch of the new chip has been pushed back from late this year to the first half of 2003. Unlike the Athlon XP and Pentium 4, which process information in 32-bit chunks, Clawhammer will be able to handle both 32-bit and 64-bit processing, giving it the capability to process twice as much data per clock cycle as existing PC chips, and address far larger amounts of memory, making them better suited for select multimedia applications.