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AMD expands 64-bit chip line

Advanced Micro Devices turns up the heat on Intel by releasing three notebook processors and a chip aimed at high-end desktops.

Advanced Micro Devices on Tuesday turned up the heat on Intel by releasing a desktop chip and three notebook processors.

AMD's Athlon 64 3400+ processor largely will be aimed at high-end desktops, while the Athlon 64 2800+, 3000+ and 3200+ chips will go into notebooks.

The 3400+ chip will cost $417 in volume quantities, according to sources familiar with the company's plans. AMD also is expected to cut prices on existing chips.

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The new chips will likely intensify the ongoing battle for desktop supremacy between Sunnyvale, Calif.-based AMD and Intel. AMD's Athlon 64 line holds a slim edge over Intel's Pentium 4 on a number of benchmarks, according to review sites such as AnandTech, although the Pentium 4 outscores the Athlon 64 on some tests.

Intel will soon counter AMD's lead with Prescott, an enhanced version of the Pentium 4 with additional multimedia instructions. But Prescott probably won't be released until February.

High-end chips such as these sell in relatively low volumes. The Athlon 64, for instance, is sold in a Hewlett-Packard PC under its Compaq Presario brand, but it's mostly seen in desktops from specialty makers such as Falcon Northwest. Still, word-of-mouth recommendations from the enthusiast crowd can be crucial in sales, according to executives from AMD and Intel.

Both companies also now sell desktop chips--the Athlon FX51 and the Pentium 4 Extreme Edition--that are repackaged server chips. Although fairly evenly matched, the Pentium 4 Extreme Edition scores slightly better on many tests, according to Tom's Hardware, another benchmarking site. These chips, however, sell in even lower volumes.