AMD has launched an enhanced version of its Athlon processor, running at speeds of up to 1GHz and using copper circuitry for the first time.
The chip, formerly codenamed Thunderbird, was launched last week at AMD's new manufacturing plant in Dresden, Germany, where all the company's copper chips will be manufactured. The chips conduct electricity more efficiently than their aluminium predecessors and generate less heat.
The Athlon also has on-die cache running at full speed, which gives its performance a boost. It will be available at six speeds, ranging from 750MHz to 1GHz, and is available in both AMD's Slot A and new Socket A packaging.
Five PC manufacturers have committed to Athlon so far: Compaq, IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Fujitsu Siemens and Gateway.
A low-end version of Athlon, called Duron, aimed primarily at the business market, will be available later this month.
Richard Baker, regional marketing director for AMD's PC products division, said the Duron chip is "where we're expecting to make our big push into the business market".
However, analysts claim Intel and AMD are focusing on marketing rather than on what customers want, and questioned the need for such high-speed chips. However, if AMD can provide sufficient supplies of the new chips, they said it could win business from Intel.
Thomas Reuner, a Gartner analyst, said: "Intel is suffering delivery problems and is struggling to supply processors, particularly Pentium IIIs. As long as AMD is capable of delivering the new chips it may be able to win business from Intel in the corporate market.
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