Advanced Micro Design (AMD) announced Monday morning that it has beat Intel Corporation in the race to 1 GHZ (1000 MHz) with the shipment of its 1 GHz Athlon microprocessor. Compaq Computer and Gateway will be the first PC makers to ship systems based on the new chip, which bests Intel's top chip by at about 100 MHz. And this isn't a vaporware pre-announcement: AMD is shipping the chips to PC makers immediately. Systems with the new chips are expected by mid-month.
"The commencement of commercial shipments of 1GHz AMD Athlon processors is a watershed event not only for AMD, but also for the personal computer industry," said AMD chairman and CEO W.J. Sanders. "Attaining the 1GHz performance mark has long been a paramount goal for producers of PC processors. Introduction of a PC processor capable of executing one billion clock cycles per second is our industry's equivalent of breaking the sound barrier. Just as the achievement of Chuck Yeager signaled the beginning of a new era in aviation, the 1GHz processor ushers in a new era of information technology. AMD plans to lead in the gigahertz era."
The AMD Athlon is compatible with Intel's family of Pentium processors, including the Pentium III and Celeron, offering 128 KB of on-chip L1 cache, a fully pipelined architecture, and "3DNow!" instructions for accelerated 3D operations. And Athlon chips run on a 200 MHz system bus, compared to 100 or 133 MHz for typical Intel-based systems. Since the introduction of the Athlon, the chip has given Intel its first serious high-end competition ever: Various versions of the Athlon processor have secured the top speed spot and the chip has won numerous design awards. Meanwhile, Motorola's incompatible PowerPC design is stuck at 500 MHz, which it is shipping only in limited quantities.
The AMD Athlon 1GHz will be priced at approximately $1300 in quantity. Additionally, 900 and 950 MHz parts will be available at $900 and $1000, respectively. Intel is expected to announce a 1 GHz Pentium III sometime this week. However, Intel's part will likely be more expensive and suffer from the supply shortages that have accompanied other recent Pentium III rollouts. For now, it's safe to say that AMD is on top of the world. Perhaps more importantly, the company is now assured a place in history as the first chipmaker to arrive at the microprocessor equivalent of the Holy Grail