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AMD picking up speed in chip race

Sure, the new Athlon XP 1900+ has a lower clock speed than the Pentium 4, but many say its megahertz boost will help it outperform Intel's chip.

Advanced Micro Devices has again upped the stakes in its processor performance race with rival Intel.

AMD on Monday launched the new Athlon XP 1900+, its highest performance desktop processor issued to date.

The new 1900+ chip runs at a clock speed of 1.6GHz. The resulting megahertz boost over its 1.53GHz Athlon XP 1800+ is expected by many to push the chip's performance ahead of that of Intel's Pentium 4.

AMD argues that its Athlon provides better overall performance, even though its clock speed is lower than Pentium 4's. This argument, in part, was the influence behind the launch of the company's new Athlon XP naming scheme, which granted model numbers to various versions of the chip in place of clock-speed measurements.

Most reviewers agree that the new Athlon chips live up to their name. Based on previous tests, most testers predict benchmarks will show that the 1900+ chip solidly outperforms Intel's 2GHz Pentium 4. AMD's previous 1800+ chip beat the 2GHz Pentium 4 on many tests, but was outperformed on others.

MicronPC will offer the new chip immediately. Meanwhile, Compaq Computer, Hewlett-Packard and Fujitsu also plan to offer the chip at a later date, according to AMD.

The newly minted 1900+ lists for $269, coming in above the recently reduced $223 list price of the 1800+ chip. However, street prices for AMD chips often come in below official list prices for chips sold in 1,000-unit batches.

The AMD/Intel performance battle will continue early next year.

Intel is expected to counter the newest XP with an enhanced version of its Pentium 4 chip, dubbed Northwood, which is expected to run at 2.2GHz. The new chip is expected in January.

But AMD will battle back again with an Athlon XP 2000+ chip that runs at 1.73GHz. The chip is expected early next year.