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K6 will beat Klamath to chip market

Next-generation MMX chips will do battle in the second quarter; the K6 from AMD is expected to ship before Intel's Klamath which is late.

Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) is expected to officially introduce its next-generation K6 processor very early in the second quarter, beating Intel's next-generation P6 to market.

AMD's K6 will be introduced the first week of April and possibly as soon as March 31, said an industry source familiar with the roll-out.

The K6 is AMD's next-generation processor that will compete with Intel's P6 processors including the Pentium Pro and the upcoming Klamath processor.

The Klamath shipping date has been slipping and is due in the second quarter, possibly in May or June. The K6 will likely compete closely with Klamath since both will use Intel's MMX technology. The Pentium Pro does not use MMX, which speeds up multimedia functions such as graphics, sound, and communications.

AMD is staking the future of its processor business on the K6 since its previous chip, the K5, was more or less a failure. A series of costly delays scared off key customers such as Compaq.

AMD has already started volume production of the K6 processor this quarter, and the chip will contribute to revenues in the second quarter, AMD said. The K6 has been demonstrated running at 200 MHz but could run even faster in the future.

One of the K6's strong suits is its ability to run the large installed base of 16-bit software faster than the Pentium Pro. Since Windows 95 uses a great deal of 16-bit code, this will be a boon for Windows 95 users. But Intel is also expected to improve 16-bit performance with Klamath.

Disagreements remain with Intel over MMX however. Though AMD has the intellectual property rights to MMX technology, Intel claims that the MMX name is a trademark and therefore other companies do not have the right to use the term "MMX" as a promotional label.

AMD disagrees. "This is not trademarkable, any more than the 386 name was. Moreover, the patent and trademark office has not affirmed the trademark," AMD said. (Intel is an investor in CNET: The Computer Network.)