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AMD Brings PCI Express to Athlon

AMD has climbed aboard the PCI Express train with its latest generation of Athlon64 processors, the company said.

The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based semiconductor maker began shipping its Athlon 64 FX-55 (gamers) and Athlon 64 4000+ (enterprise) processors to suppliers last week with PCI Express . The company had previously not included the up-and-coming chip interconnect technology in its Athlon family of chips.

Company execs told internetnews.com AMD will now stop production of the current Athlon FX chip -- Athlon FX53 -- as the new FX55 comes into production. AMD said its major hardware partners include 30 different manufacturers including Fujitsu Siemens in Europe and Alienware for the white box gaming enthusiasts. In terms of PCI Express chipset support, AMD is partnering with like ATI, NVidia, Sis, ULI and VIA to support the desktop AMD64 platform. The venture is significant since it combines the bandwidth of PCI Express with AMD's other championed HyperTransport technology, which it is currently shipping with the 2.0 specification.

Jonathan Seckler, senior product manager with AMD, told internetnews.com the two new Athlon's represent the last of the company's 65-bit 130nm production chips as the company is shifting toward value-priced 90nm designs and dual-core architectures in 2005.

"We are doing this very conservatively," Seckler said. "We need to maintain the stability of the project and we don't want to damage our reputation as we transition. The same goes with our dual-core designs. When we do it, that product will be reliable enough for the long term even though we have a strong following that has asked us to move faster. Our goal is moving into a mainstream market and you can't win that by rushing in."

Seckler said the financial press may be coming around as enthusiasts are chomping at the bit.

"People need computers now and when the corporate market decides to make a purchase, they usually don't wait around for the next cycle," Seckler said. "One of the requirements and challenges that the corporations are asking for is a stable platform. The fruits of our work are coming around soon.

Still, AMD can't rest on its standards as its rivals Broadcom, HP, IBM, Intel, LSI Logic, Microsoft, Phoenix Technologies, and Texas Instruments are also behind the PCI Express movement.

Seckler said AMD's benefit is that its Athlon 64 processors also designed with Enhanced Virus Protection (EVP) capabilities, which when combined with Microsoft Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2) or Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 can prevent buffer overflow style attacks.

The company said its AMD Athlon 64 FX-55 processor is priced at $827 and the AMD Athlon 64 processor 4000+ is priced at $729 in bulk 1,000-unit quantities.