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Gateway fixes glitch with 1-GHz Thunderbird systems

The computer maker fixes the glitch with its computers that feature the chip from Advanced Micro Devices and starts to ship systems to customers again.

Gateway has fixed the glitch with its computers featuring the 1-GHz "Thunderbird" chip from Advanced Micro Devices and has started to ship systems to customers again.

The bug, which was disclosed earlier this month, prompted computers containing the chip to lock up, a Gateway representative said at the time.

The problem was determined to be caused by a power circuit in the motherboard, a Gateway representative said.

Although the glitch affected few customers, it temporarily held up important marketing efforts for both AMD and Gateway. Thunderbird is an enhanced version of AMD's Athlon processor. Unlike earlier Athlons, Thunderbirds contain an integrated secondary cache, a small pool of memory located near the processor that holds frequently accessed data. Ordinary Athlons have a larger cache, but it is slower and located on a separate chip.

Integration of the cache essentially put AMD back on top in the never-ending battle for desktop processor performance. In recent benchmark tests, Pentium IIIs from Intel, which contain an integrated cache, edged out ordinary Athlons running at the same speed in different benchmark tests.

Thunderbird reversed that trend and slightly edged out 1-GHz Pentium IIIs in terms of overall performance, according to independent testers such as

Few customers were affected by the problem. The bug was discovered in Gateway's lab in the first few weeks the computers were available, so few were sold.

Orders from customers who tried to buy Thunderbird systems in the past few weeks will be filled first, the Gateway representative said.