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AMD hatches new naming plan for chip generations

K5, K6, K8 and then Pacifica? Working on simultaneous projects, Advanced Micro Devices has sunk its K names.

At Advanced Micro Devices, the Ks have faded away.

For years, the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company designated its chip generations by the letter K. The company sold K-6 chips in the late '90s, and the Athlon and Opteron were brand names for, respectively, the K7 and K8 generations of processors. AMD's K was a counterpart to Intel's P designation for chip families such as the P5 (the first Pentium) and the P6, which included both the Pentium II and III.

Now, however, AMD has done away with the designation because it has launched a strategy to enter a wider variety of markets. This effort will involve simultaneously developing, and selling, chips based on different designs for separate markets. For most of its history, AMD sold one chip generation at a time and tweaked it slightly to squeeze into different markets.

"We don't really talk about K8 and K9 anymore," said Fred Weber, AMD's chief technical officer.

The company's plan to diversify its product line is already under way. AMD has separate design teams working on server chips, desktop chips, standard notebook chips, low-power notebook chips and inexpensive chips for Internet appliances and consumer electronics, said Dirk Meyer, executive vice president of AMD's Computation Products Group.

AMD has also been actively hiring designers from competitors, such as IBM and Sun Microsystems, Weber said.

The inaugural K-less chips will emerge in the second half of 2005, when AMD comes out with its first dual core chips for servers, notebooks and desktops. A year ago, these were known as the K9 generation.

In 2006, AMD will release a line of processors code-named Pacifica, which will contain enhanced security features and a virtualization technology that will let a single computer run more than one operating system.