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AMD finally catches up to Pentium

Advanced Micro Devices today announced shipments of its 5K86 processor, the company's long-overdue challenger to Intel's Pentium.

Advanced Micro Devices today announced shipments of its 5K86 processor, the company's long-overdue challenger to Intel's Pentium chip.

AMD was Intel's largest and fiercest competitor in the 386 and 486 generations of processors. But the AMD 5K86 chip--previously known under its code name K5--has been crippled by a series of delays over the last year, costing AMD much-needed customers. Compaq Computer, which had previously intended to be a large user of the 5K86, has abandoned any plans to use AMD Pentium-class chips for the time being.

AMD is shipping two versions of the 5K86, one with performance on par with a 75-MHz Pentium and a faster version that matches a 90-MHz Pentium in performance, the company said. The 5K86 processor family is compatible with all software written for the Pentium and is certified by Microsoft as a Windows-compatible chip.

To win customers, AMD is pricing its chips well below that of equivalent Intel Pentium processors. Prices are set as low as half that of comparable Pentiums.

AMD also plans to bring out 5K86s that match 120-, 133-, and 150-MHz Pentium processors in performance in the second half of the year. In the first quarter of 1997, AMD plans to bring out its next-generation K6 processor, which will compete with Intel's Pentium Pro.

But AMD faces an increasingly formidable competitor, as Intel plans to announce a 200-MHz Pentium processor in the third quarter. Intel is also scheduled to cut prices on all of its Pentium and Pentium Pros in the coming months, possibly negating the impact of AMD's aggressive cost reductions.

The AMD 5K86-P75 processor is priced at $75 each in 1,000-piece quantities, about 25% less than a Pentium equivalent. The AMD 5K86-P90 device is priced at $99 each in 1,000-piece quantities, about half the price of a Pentium of this class.

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