AMD Releases Athlon XP 3000+

Less than a week after unveiling its fastest processor, Advanced Micro Devices Monday took the wraps off an even faster chip for desktop PCs.

The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based semiconductor maker introduced its AMD Athlon XP processor 3000+, which is immediately availability from NEC’s Packard Bell consumer line starting in Europe. Some two-dozen U.S. computer manufacturers are expected to follow suit in the next few weeks including Hewlett-Packard .

Priced at $588 in 1,000-unit quantities, the new chip is based on AMD’s 32-bit “Barton” architecture and features either 384KB or 640KB of total on-chip cache memory, QuantiSpeed architecture and support for AMD’s 3DNow! — a preset list of multimedia instructions. The new Athlon is compatible with AMD’s Socket A infrastructure, and supports the advanced 266 or 333 front-side bus. Like other Athlons before it, the processors were manufactured using AMD’s 0.13 micron copper process technology in Fab 30 in Dresden, Germany.

AMD boasts up to 17 percent better performance than a 3.06GHz Pentium 4 from rival Intel .

“Consumers should be aware that PC performance is more than just processor frequency alone,” said Kevin Krewell, senior analyst at The Microprocessor Report. “Today’s PC processors can deliver higher performance through architectural enhancements such as increased cache memory and faster bus speeds. The overall performance of a system is what’s important, and that’s what buyers should focus on when making a purchasing decision.”

The release is but an appetizer, however, to computer makers — and users — who are anxious to get their hands on 64-bit processors nicknamed either “Clawhammer” (new Athlons) or “Sledgehammer” (new Opterons). AMD says it is postponing the release date on some of these chips. Currently, the first Hammer chips for servers are slated to appear on April 22 at a release party in New York. Its AMD Athlon 64 processor for the desktop and mobile devices will not come out until this September.

AMD is also slated to release a new AMD Athlon XP processor 2800+ this week. A 3200+ version is scheduled for release to PC makers by the third quarter of this year.

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