Samples of the first Pentium Pro/Klamath challenger from AMD - the K6 - reached developers on time last week with the minimum of fuss from the supplier.
The samples of the processor, which uses multimedia extension (MMX) instructions, began compatibility testing for use with Windows 95 and Windows NT and are expected to be ratified early in the New Year.
But unlike earlier processor launches from AMD, the K6 will receive none of the marketing bravado its predecessors enjoyed. An industry source explained: "AMD is being extremely careful with this launch, due to the hype and subsequent disappointment of the K5 which was nearly a year late."
AMD has only recently begun sampling 166MHz products, while rivals Cyrix and Intel are both shipping 200MHz processors in volume. Brendon Sherry, Cyrix's European marketing director, believes AMD needs to deliver on time and at speed if it is to win back the respect it lost due to the "disastrous launch" of the K5.
However, Sherry, normally mordant in his appraisal of competitors, wished AMD well in what he termed "the ongoing struggle with Intel". He said, "Welcome to the battle. I wish AMD all the best with the K6. Better two of us fighting Intel than poor old Cyrix on its own."
It's no wonder AMD is staying mum on the K6. There's a lot at risk - both in terms of reputation and expectation from potential clients. Even marketing manager Richard Baker, never bashful about AMD's achievements, refused to give a hint on the clock speeds we can expect from the K6, or the price/ performance advantage (if any) over equivalent Intel processors.
An educated guess, bolstered by rumours in the industry, suggest that the first K6 will ship at about 180MHz compared to the Klamath which is expected to ship at 233MHz.
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