The chip wars took a dramatic turn last week as Digital announced plans to use AMD's K6 chip, just days before Intel finally delivered its sixth generation processor, the Pentium II.
Digital is the largest manufacturer to sign-up for the widely-acclaimed K6, which has consistently beat the Pentium with MMX multimedia extensions in independent benchmarks tests.
Speaking of his company's major OEM triumph, Richard Baker, AMD's Northern European marketing manager, said: "I'm delighted. I predicted we'd have a tier-one announcement before the summer, but things are moving quicker than I'd expected."
AMD is thought to be close to winning further endorsements from tier-one manufacturers. Hewlett-Packard and Compaq are two names cropping up with increasingly regularity.
Michael Slater, editor of the Microprocessor Report, said while he was not aware of the Compaq deal, he would not be at all surprised if it was true. "Compaq and AMD have always had a good relationship and Compaq is more interested in selling Compaq goods rather than Intel goods," he added.
Joe D'Elia, senior analyst at Dataquest said: "I've been anticipating some of the bigger players taking on the K6."
Pentium II, formerly known as Klamath, is expected to arrive in versions clocked at 233MHz, 266MHz and 300MHz. Among the manufacturers introducing systems based on the processor this week are Gateway 2000, Compaq, Dell and Fujitsu.
Despite AMD's win, major Intel OEMs are proclaiming the Pentium II launch a momentous occasion. John Shepheard, European marketing manager at Gateway 2000, said: "This really is the start of a revolution. The Pentium II is very significant."
So far Intel has done a fiendishly efficient job of keeping its partners quiet about the performance of the Pentium II, resisting the temptation to compare it with AMD's K6.
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