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AMD scores HP notebook win, readies 800-MHz debut

AMD will release an 800-MHz Athlon processor at the Computer Electronics Show tomorrow in Las Vegas, with both IBM and Compaq on hand.

AMD sought to counter a groundbreaking Intel initiative with an expanded relationship with Hewlett-Packard, and tomorrow will announce an 800-MHz processor that matches the giant's fastest chip.

As expected, AMD will release an 800-MHz Athlon processor at the Computer Electronics Show tomorrow in Las Vegas. Both IBM and Compaq will be on hand to announce computers incorporating the new chip, according to sources familiar with the Sunnyvale, Calif., company's plans.

Meanwhile, HP today announced it has adopted AMD's K6-2 in four new Pavilion notebooks for consumers. Although computer maker has used AMD chips in its consumer desktops, today's announcement marks the first time AMD has found its way into HP portables.

HP is further considering adopting the Athlon for desktops, analysts have said.

Also today, Intel grabbed headlines by detailing plans for selling Linux-powered Internet appliances that make phone calls, surf the Web and send and receive email. The new devices, which move the Santa Clara, Calif., company into the realm of marketing information appliances, will essentially combine a phone with a limited but upgradeable Internet PC. (See related story)

The back-and-forth rivalry between the two chipmakers was further underscored by PC maker Gateway's unexpected warning that its fourth-quarter earnings would fall below expectations. In a conference call, chief executive Jeff Weitzen placed some of the blame on Intel supply shortages and strongly hinted that the company would shortly turn to AMD for relief. (See related story)

Previously, Gateway had used both AMD and Intel processors in its PCs, but phased out AMD chips during the second half of last year. AMD officials have said that the relationship began to change because of supply issues. Gateway, however, is not slated to join in any announcement with AMD tomorrow.

With the new Athlon chip, AMD will retake a slim performance edge over Intel in the market for PC processors, according to benchmark testers. Late last month, Intel debuted its 800-MHz Pentium III processor, briefly topping AMD's fastest offering.

"The results in the Athlon vs. Pentium III 800 MHz battle are mixed; it's safe to say that the two parts are comparable, and that in real-life game play in lower resolutions, Athlon has the edge," stated authors at The Meter, a testing site run by Mercury Research.

Benchmarks aside, the big issue remains supply: Few of the 800-MHz Pentium IIIs have hit the market. Sales representatives at Dell Computer state it will take customers roughly a month to get a system with the chip, much longer than the delivery time for other Dell computers. Fast Athlon processors were difficult to find earlier, but supplies have steadily improved, according to sources.

HP's new Pavilion laptops, due at the end of the month, range in price from $1,199 to $2,399. The manufacturer also announced an Intel Pentium III notebook.