AMD Debuts Highest-Powered Desktop Processor

New Athlon chip offers 70% boost in on-chip cache memory.
Advanced Micro Devices Inc. on Monday introduced its highest-performing desktop processor to date. With a 70% increase in on-chip cache memory size, to 640 Kbytes, AMD has designed its new 2.17-GHz Athlon XP 3000+ processor primarily for PC-based video and digital photo editing, as well as 3-D game development.

"Video editing and gaming applications tend to use very large files," says Mark de Frere, Athlon's brand manager. More cache lets the editor or programmer manipulate those files faster because they're kept closer to the core processor, as opposed to being stored in disk memory.

For users working with smaller files, such as in a transaction-processing scenario where processor speed is more significant, the larger cache is likely to be less of a draw, says Roger Kay, IDC's director of client computing. "If you're processing lots of transactions, you have to go back to the disk anyway because that's where the data is, so large cache size isn't as significant as processor speed," he says. "But if you're doing high-end graphics and gaming, the cache is more significant because you don't want the disk memory to be the gating factor to overall system performance."

Several of AMD's manufacturing partners today begin offering PCs with the new Athlon XP 3000+ and 2800+ processors, priced at $588 and $375, respectively. These partners include Atlas Micro Logistic, Falcon Northwest Computer Systems, VoodooPC, and NEC Computers International, which sells largely in France. Hewlett-Packard, which already offers the Athlon-based D315, will in March offer a desktop based on the new Athlon XP 3000+.

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