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Athlon races on in new 1.4GHz incarnation

Advanced Micro Devices plans to release its fastest desktop chip late next week, as well as a new chip for low-price PCs, sources say.

Advanced Micro Devices will rev up Athlon again with the introduction of its fastest desktop chip late next week.

The chipmaker, as expected, will announce its 1.4GHz desktop Athlon processor and a new 950MHz Duron chip next week at the Computex trade show in Taiwan, sources familiar with AMD's plans said.

AMD declined to comment.

The new chips come during a busy period for the company. The Athlon launch marks AMD's fourth Athlon chip introduction for the year, including its new Athlon 4 mobile processor.

The 1.4GHz clock speed is expected to help AMD battle back against Intel's recently introduced 1.7GHz Pentium 4 chip. Despite the difference in clock speed, and Intel's claims to the contrary, AMD says its Athlon chip is "faster" than the Pentium 4 on most applications.

Meanwhile, the 950MHz Duron chip is AMD's third Duron launch so far this year. The Duron chip family, aimed at low-price PCs, offers many of the attributes of the Athlon but uses a smaller cache and comes in at a lower price.

Last month, AMD announced the Athlon 4, its first Athlon processor designed for use in notebook PCs. The company also is expected to launch its new workstation and server Athlon chips later in the month.

The 950MHz and 1.4GHz chips have long been anticipated. During AMD's recent first-quarter earnings call, CEO Jerry Sanders mentioned that the 1.4GHz chip would appear in the second quarter.

The Athlon 4 and the new workstation and server chips are based on a new processor core with several improvements--most importantly, the ability to perform with far less power consumption. This core, known by the code name Palomino, will also give rise to new desktop Athlon chips running at 1.5GHz and above, scheduled for introduction in the third quarter of this year.