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Major PC makers yet to use K6

Support for AMD's spanking new K6 processor is limited initially to smaller PC makers, though support from component manufacturers is strong.

Support for Advanced Micro Devices' (AMD) spanking new K6 processor is limited in the U.S. market initially to smaller PC makers, though support from component manufacturers is strong.

The chip company announced the K6 running at speeds of 166, 200, and 233 MHz. AMD says it has already shipped 10,000 of the processors to PC makers and expects to ship hundreds of thousands in the April-to-June period.

The chipmaker is fully cognizant of the challenges it faces in winning over large, well-established PC vendors. Top companies "have to internalize [the K6] and figure out the repercussions vis-a-vis Intel. Many are still being cautious," said Vin Dham, a vice president at AMD.

Micro Express and Tatung, small PC vendors in the U.S. market, have both announced K6 systems.

Micro Express is offering the MicroFlex-K6/200, based on a 200-MHz K6, which is packed with high-end features for only $2,299. The K6/200 includes 32MB of memory, a 17-inch monitor, a 12X CD-ROM drive, and a 3GB hard disk drive.

A Micro Express representative noted that the 233-MHz K6 is not yet available.

The Tatung TCS-5970 desktop system supports 166-, 200-, and 233-MHz K6 processors and as many as three hard drives. Pricing for the TCS-5970 starts at $1,900.

In the overseas market, two German PC vendors have also announced systems.

It is relatively easy for these PC makers to roll out new systems with the K6 since the chip can be fitted into existing Pentium-processor designs with only minor changes.

Despite the lack of interest yet from large PC manufacturers, the K6 is getting significant support from chipset firms, which may bode well for future support from a variety of computer makers. A chipset is a group of chips that allow the processor to communicate with the rest of the PC and, along with the processor, forms the core of a computer's electronics.

Chipsets from National Semiconductor and Santa Clara, California-based Integrated Technology Express have been announced that support the K6 processor in notebook PCs. AMD executives said yesterday that the announcement of a "mobile" K6 processor for notebook PCs is forthcoming.

Opti is also offering K6 chip sets for notebooks as well as desktops. Via and SiS are also supporting the K6 with chipsets for desktop systems.

A number of companies are also providing BIOS support. The BIOS is software that talks directly to the hardware in a PC and establishes the PC's configuration when it is booted up. BIOS vendors include Phoenix and Award.

K6 motherboards from BCM Advanced Research and DFI are also available.