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Digital turns to Intel rival

Digital Equipment, embroiled in a legal battle with Intel, launches new PCs that use chips from Intel competitor AMD.

Digital Equipment (DEC) today launched low-priced PCs for businesses that use the K6 processor from Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), an announcement with added significance in light of the legal battle between Digital and Intel (INTC).

Digital becomes the first major computer vendor to announce systems using AMD's new K6 processor, as reported last Friday by CNET's NEWS.COM. The AMD K6 competes with Intel's high-end MMX Pentium processors as well as the new Pentium II but costs less.

Digital will offer its new Venturis FX-2 PCs in 166- and 200-MHz versions of the K6. The new systems will also be offered alongside systems using 166- and 200-MHz Intel processors, but the AMD-based systems will be priced at about five percent less than the Intel-based systems running at the same processor clock speed. The FX-2 comes with Digital?s ClientWorks software for managing PC hardware and software and other features common to the Venturis series.

Digital says estimated street prices for the new systems start at $1,250. Digital says it will offer a Venturis FX-2 with 233-MHz K6 beginning in July.

While AMD gets a vote of confidence, Digital is gaining an alternate supplier of high-performance Intel-compatible processors. The relationship between AMD and Digital may become even closer in upcoming months as Digital's relationship with Intel faces legal tests.

Digital last month sued Intel for allegedly violating Digital patents on processor technology. Intel has responded by asking for the return of intellectual property which details future processor technologies, and has intimated that chip supplies to Digital could be affected.

For the time being, Digital can continue designing new systems using unannounced Intel processors. As for the future, Digital officials told CNET's NEWS.COM in an interview last week that they believe there are no grounds for concern among customers because the necessary contracts for processor supply from Intel are in place and will be fulfilled.