Late yesterday, Advanced Micro Designs (AMD) announced new Athlon microprocessors that close the gap with Intel's most powerful performers. The Athlon XP 2800+ and 2700+ use a 333 MHz bus, a first for AMD, and are roughly comparable to Intel's market-leading Pentium 4, which runs at speeds up to 2.8 GHz. AMD says the speedy new Athlons will become available to customers beginning next month. Of course, by that time, Intel will have likely released its 3 GHz Pentium 4 design, keeping a promise it made earlier this year to hit 3 GHz by the end of 2002.
"Digital entertainment, particularly gaming, is driving the need for innovative technology to enhance the overall computing experience for today's PC users," said Ed Ellett, AMD's vice president of Client Business. "The AMD Athlon XP processor 2800+ with its advanced 333 FSB is the ultimate processor for PC customers who demand the highest levels of performance."
With the new processors, AMD is almost solely targeting the PC enthusiast market, made up largely of performance-oriented gamers and people who like to build and tweak their own systems. So the companies that will offer high-end Athlon-based PCs aren't the usual crowd of top ten PC makers, but are instead made up of enthusiast-friendly companies such as Falcon Northwest, MicronPC and Voodoo PC.
With Intel running ahead of schedule releasing faster new chips, AMD has stumbled a bit in recent days trying to keep up. This week's announcement is the second the company has made in recent days where the availability of its chips lags the announcement by several weeks. In August, AMD announced its Athlon XP 2400+ and 2600+ chips, but those processors are only just now becoming available. And AMD's intriguing new x86-compatible 64-bit chip, the Hammer, was recently delayed from late 2002 to mid-2003.