AMD-Intel slugfest accelerates toward 1GHz

— 12:08 PM on March 2, 2000

You may not have to wait much longer to buy a computer running at the symbolically important—not to mention brutal fast—1GHz mark. AMD and Intel have been at each others' throats, locked in a fierce frequency battle, and they're spinning ever faster toward 1000MHz. The tech headlines today are saturated with GHz talk, as Intel says 1GHz Pentium III systems will be available this month, while AMD may just go ahead and release 900, 950, and 1000MHz bins of the Athlon very soon.

Near as I can tell, here's what's going on: Intel is bent on hitting the ever-so important 1GHz mark before AMD, so they are about to employ the same "accelerated launch" tactic they've used for the 800MHz Pentium III. Basically, Intel could only supply a fairly limited number of 800MHz parts, but rather than wait for volume production to ramp up before announcing the next speed grade, they shipped what they could at 800MHz rather than sit and watch AMD walk off with the MHz crown. Intel has admitted the GHz PIIIs won't hit "volume production" until the third quarter of this year.

AMD, for its part, seems to be sitting in the fabled catbird seat. The newer Athlon core is taking to higher frequencies quite well. We'll have to wait and see whether the release of 900, 950MHz and 1GHz Athlons is "accelerated" enough in response to Intel to hurt AMD's ability to deliver 1GHz chips in volume. I suspect that AMD is running a little ragged here, too, but probably less so than Intel.

Incidentally, in light of these events, I wouldn't expect a lot of room for overclocking in either manufacturers' early 1GHz chips, but you never know.

While you're ruminating on the CPU wars, have a look at this interview with "Colonel" Jerry Sanders, AMD's chairman and CEO, and genial purveyor of fried birds bathed in 11 tasty herbs and spices. For further amusement, read The Register's take on Intel trying to position the Celeron against the Athlon—as if.

(Credit the 'shack and the the HardOCP for for some of these links, by the way.)

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