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PC makers unveil K6-2, K6-III PCs

AMD is raining on the Pentium III parade with a fast K6-2 chip and new customers for its processors.

Advanced Micro Devices is raining on the Pentium III parade with a fast K6-2 chip and new customers for its processors.

Although the company has recently suffered financial and manufacturing setbacks, AMD continues to land design wins with major PC vendors in the consumer computer market. Gateway's Select line of consumer PCs marks the company's first use of AMD chips in the United States.

Price is a major attraction for both manufacturers and consumers. The 450-MHz K6-2 sells for $202 in volume while the 400-MHz K6-3 sells for $284.

By contrast, Intel's 450-MHz and 500-MHz Pentium IIIs are expected to sell for over $500 and $700, respectively, when they are launched today.

"The Select line is just what the name implies: Everything you need without a lot of bells and whistles," said Randy Farwell, senior product manager for consumer desktops at Gateway. Gateway's AMD systems will start at lower prices than the entry-level Intel systems, but Farwell does not believe that non-Intel computers must have rock-bottom prices to sell well.

"Both [Intel and AMD entry-level computers] are geared towards people...who are sensitive to cost," he said. Gateway's AMD computers are "priced competitively, but we haven't taken the tack that they'll have to be priced less than Intel to sell. Time will prove whether we're right about that."

Like the Pentium IIIs, the K6 line contains multimedia extensions that can improve visual computing.

With the 450-MHz chip, AMD is only 50 MHz short of Intel's 500-MHz Pentium III. Increasing performance, however, continues to nudge the price range of AMD-based systems upward. A number of analysts, however, have said that the K6-2 and III families may hit the speed ceiling at 500 MHz, if even that can be achieved with the design.

The IBM Aptiva 520, for instance, which comes with a 450-MHz K6-2, 64MB of memory, a 10GB hard drive, and a CD-ROM drive for $1,299, will run more than a number of AMD-based computers. The Aptiva 520 will go on sale March 8.

The Gateway Select line incorporates the K6-2 processors running at clock speeds of 366, 400, and 450 MHz. Prices start at $899.

The Compaq Presario 5600s, which comes out later this week, is the only computer of the bunch that incorporates the recently released K6-III microprocessor. Starting at $1,399, the 5600s comes with a 400-MHz K6-III, 64MB of memory, a 10GB hard drive, and a 56kpbs modem. Consumers can upgrade to fast digital subscriber line modem for $99 more, said a Compaq spokeswoman.

Within 30 days, Compaq will refresh the line with a 450-MHz K6-III machine, she added. Computers ordered through the kiosk are built and shipped by Compaq and are essentially direct sales. For now, there will be no K6-III Presarios on store shelves.

Compaq today also released the Presario 5600i line of consumer PCs. These systems are based around the Pentium III processor. And, while one configuration will appear on store shelves, most models will be sold directly by Compaq.