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AMD confirms Palomino will debut in fall

PC World

By Douglas F. Gray

(IDG) -- Advanced Micro Devices is set to launch its first desktop processor based on its Palomino core, the company confirms.

The chip maker expects to begin shipping a Palomino-based 1.5GHz Athlon this quarter, according to Ward Tisdale, an AMD spokesperson. The Palomino core features several improvements over AMD's current Thunderbird core, including Streaming Single Instruction-Multiple Data Extensions (SSE) instruction support, data prefetching, and improved power management functions.

"This will be an extremely competitive part," says Kevin Krewell, a senior analyst with MicroDesign Resources. "The Athlon 1.5 will be very comparable to [Intel's] Pentium 4 in the 1.9 [GHz] to 2GHz range."

The new processor, though still manufactured using 0.18-micron technology, will be based on the Palomino core, which is used in the company's Athlon 4 mobile processor.

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"Palomino is a nice improvement over Thunderbird," Krewell says. "There's enough bump in performance that it's a worthwhile part."

The Palomino core will feature SSE instructions, which will help performance, and data prefetching, which brings data into the memory cache before the processor needs it, Krewell said. "It is also supposed to have better power management," he said.

Power management is becoming a challenge in the current Thunderbird core, where it's becoming difficult to raise the frequency without increasing power consumption, Krewell said. The fastest Athlon processor that AMD currently offers on the desktop is 1.4GHz.

AMD is expected to make the transition to its 0.13-micron Thoroughbred core in the first quarter of next year, so Palomino probably will only be around for six to nine months before the company makes the transition, Krewell said.

Intel recently pushed its Pentium 4 to the 2-GHz mark, while the Athlon tops out at 1.4GHz. PC World tests have shown that despite Intel's extra megahertz, the Athlon still performs better on some applications.

Although AMD argues there's more to chip performance than pure megahertz, the company has also been rallying to boost its numbers, and pushing forward to Palomino.

The upcoming Athlon is based on the Palomino core. It is already used in Athlon MP CPUs for dual-processor workstations and servers. Industry-watchers are expecting competition to heat up in the mobile chip market as well as the desktop, with both Intel and AMD preparing new products.




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