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AMD ratchets up speed on the K6-2

The company's new K6-2 microprocessor clips along at 475 MHz and is quicker than Intel's fastest Pentium II processor. IBM will include the new chip in a consumer PC.

Advanced Micro Devices has ratcheted up the speed on its K6-2 processor again, and further extended its partnership in the consumer arena with IBM.

AMD today released a 475-MHz version of its K6-2 processors for desktop systems. While the chip is slower than Intel's 500-MHz Pentium III, it is faster than Intel's fastest Pentium II and Celeron chips, which are closer competitors to the K6-2 in terms of price and market segment.

The 475-MHz K6-2, which costs $213 in volume quantities, will largely go into consumer computers selling at $1,200 and less. Although few of AMD's chips end up in computers for the business market, the company lead Intel in U.S. retail market share for the first two months of the year, according to various studies.

In conjunction with AMD's announcement, IBM said it will include the chip in an upcoming Aptiva consumer PC.

"We continue to deliver leading-edge, cost-competitive solutions for the consumer and small business markets," Dana Krelle, vice president of AMD marketing, said in a statement. "IBM's use of our fastest AMD K6-2 processor strengthens AMD's leading position in the retail marketplace."

AMD is working furiously on a number of fronts to take market share away from Intel. The company is currently trying to increase the volume of 400-MHz and 450-MHz K6-III processors, which include integrated cache memory and can deliver better overall performance than the K6-2. AMD will also release more mobile K6-2 processors later this month, said sources.

In June, AMD will release the first K7 chip, a 500-MHz-plus processor that many say will allow AMD to start to move into the business computing segment in a big way. Later, the company will shift to the more advanced 0.18-micron manufacturing process. The shift is significant, because it will allow AMD to take the K6-2 beyond the 500-MHz barrier, according to Linley Gwennap, publisher of the Microprocessor Report.

These product releases in the end, ideally, will keep processor prices low by fostering a competitive environment. AMD, however, has been saddled with chronic manufacturing problems in bringing out new chips. The timing of any future events, therefore, is subject to a variety of circumstances.