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AMD boosts Athlon processor to 1.1 GHz

Computers with the new chip will begin shipping today, with Compaq Computer, Fujitsu Siemens, Gateway, Hewlett-Packard and IBM expected to adopt the chip.

    While Intel is struggling to speed up its Pentium III, Advanced Micro Devices has cranked up its Athlon processors once again.

    As previously reported, computers with the 1.1-GHz Athlon will begin shipping today. Compaq Computer, Fujitsu Siemens, Gateway, Hewlett-Packard and IBM are among the computer makers expected to adopt the chip.

    Compaq plans to add the faster processor to its Presario 7000 consumer series, while HP plans to use the chip in its Pavilion home PC line.

    AMD rival Intel released its 1.13-GHz chip at the end of July. Today, however, Intel said it is recalling that chip.

    In addition, even Intel's 1-GHz chips are said to be scarce.

    "They are by all reports hard to find, even the (1)-GHz ones," said analyst Nathan Brookwood of Saratoga, Calif.-based Insight 64.

    Brookwood added that AMD's wafer plant in Dresden, Germany, appears to have no problem cranking out fast copper-wired chips. "The technology in Dresden seems to be giving them the headroom to provide these higher frequencies in meaningful volume."

    AMD and Intel have been locked in a battle to offer the fastest PC processor since the debut of the Athlon last year. Although AMD has the upper hand at the moment, Brookwood said, Intel should be able to keep the race interesting as it introduces the Pentium 4 later this year and eventually makes its own switch to copper wiring.

    Shares of both companies have surged this year amid strong PC demand and the general upturn in the PC market. As of Friday, AMD shares were up more than 138 percent for the year, while Intel shares were up more than 77 percent. AMD shares split 2-for-1 last week.

    In a press release announcing the faster Athlon, AMD executive vice president Rob Herb made a subtle dig at Intel for its trouble shipping its fastest chips in large quantities.

    "By supplying the highest-performing PC processors in volume, AMD has reshaped the performance segment of the market," Herb said.

    AMD cut prices earlier this month in advance of introducing the faster chip. The chipmaker is also working on bringing Athlon-based chips to notebooks.

    In the fourth quarter, AMD plans to introduce the Corvette, a low-power version of Athlon for high-end notebooks and desktops, and the Camaro, a similar chip for budget laptops.