San Diego, CA — Charles Cooper reports that Advanced Micro Devices Inc. is close to announcing a 1.2GHz version of its Athlon microprocessor, as its most senior executive said the company’s product rollout plans are running ahead of schedule.
The company is likely to disclose a more detailed timetable in the early fall, according to CEO W.J. Sanders, who in an interview painted a bullish picture of the company’s prospects.
AMD has been jockeying with Intel Corp. for the bragging rights that come with being the speed leader. In March, AMD beat its larger rival by being first to market with a 1GHz processor.
And even though AMD’s margin of victory was only about a week, it helped burnish a corporate image of a technology leader – a message that AMD has been able to trumpet on the heels of a string of strong financial quarters.
In the meantime, Sanders said AMD is a couple of weeks away from announcing a list of “major manufacturers” that plan to use the company’s newest 1.1GHz Athlon chip.
“They are all familiar names,” Sanders said without being more specific. At the same time, he indicated that AMD has big product rollout plans slated for the fourth quarter. By year’s end, he said, AMD will ship a version of its Athlon chip for mobile users.
It is expected that, between now and early next year, AMD will introduce new clock speeds every five to six weeks. “You’ll see more frequency over the next few months, but you’ll also see platform improvements,” said Martin Booth, a product marketing manager in AMD’s Computational Products Group. AMD officials were on hand, just a few feet from the action, at Intel Corp.’s Developers Forum to answer questions from reporters.
The chips will be joined, before the end of the year, with new chip sets, including AMD’s own 760, that support faster double data rate synchronous dynamic RAM (DDR SDRAM) technology and offer higher system bus speeds. The AMD 760, for example, will support DDR SDRAM and a 266MHz system bus. The system bus provides a data pathway between the processor and system components.
AMD’s goal is to boost the performance of Athlon-based desktop PCs without driving prices up too high. There will be a higher cost associated with the new memory technology and the new chip sets; however, AMD officials expect it to be a few hundred dollars and not out of the price range of performance enthusiasts.
Although cost is always a consideration, “at the high end of the market, people are pretty educated and they’re going to buy on performance,” Booth said. AMD will, in addition, transition to its newest Athlon processor core, code-named Mustang, and launch mobile Athlon and Duron chips before the end of the year. Mustang, among other things, offers higher levels of cache for performance increases and lower power transistors for mobile applications.
As reported by ZDNet News, AMD is also close to a deal with Transmeta. AMD officials confirmed discussions between the two companies. However, it appears that the discussions with Transmeta center on the startup chip maker licensing AMD’s Lightning Data Transport bus technology. Known as LDT, the technology provides a high-speed interconnect between system components, and processors, in a PC.
At the same time, the company expects to offer a line of Athlons targeted at the server market, which happens to be a segment of the computer business that Intel has long dominated.
“What we need to do, of course, is break down the Intel monopoly in big business,” Sanders said. “With the forthcoming Mustang (the code name for the server versions of Athlon), we’ll make progress there.”