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800MHz Athlons tip-up in Intel-AMD Desperation Derby

One gigahertz finishing post in sight

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The race between Intel and AMD to win the race for the trophy of fastest x86 chip on the planet is a lot like UK major horse race, the Grand National. It's a long haul for both horses, spin jockeys and spectators with many cruel hurdles and jumps, at each of which the nags could well fall over and break their legs. But just when Intel thought it was ahead by a nose ahead with its announcement today of an 800MHz Coppermine Pentium III, it seems as though the AMD spin jockeys have applied the whip to the rump of their Athlon beast, with 800MHz Athlons mysteriously tipping up for review on some of the hardware sites. Take a look at Tech Report, for example. Andandtech also seems to have an 800MHz Athlon. According to the former site, AMD needed little persuasion to give it an 800MHz Athlon. There are other 800MHz Athlons at Ace's, and at Sharky Extreme there's a look at a Pentium III-800! That has led some to think AMD might actually announce the beasts today, just to cock a snook at Chipzilla. We believe that Chimpzilla will now announce its 800MHz Athlon on the 4th of January 2000, however, and at that point be able to deliver shortly afterwards. There's not much coincidence in the semiconductor business, that's for sure. Intel's very need to apply the whip to its own Pentium III Whoppermine® chip is in itself a sign of desperation on the part of the bigger nag. There's little, or some say no possibility of very many machines using an 800MHz Whoppermine® arriving before the middle of January 2000, while AMD's own hack is in something of a better position. The problem here is that if Intel carries on pre-announcing faster and faster versions of its Pentium III, there will come a time when its Coppermine falls over at the semiconductor equivalent of Beecher's Brook, tipping its head spin jockey onto a hard surface. At that point, Chipzilla 2000® shareholders will want to ask the trainer of the horse whether putting its Coppermine hack on steroids was such a good idea after all. Let it be said, however, that it is not just Chipzilla which is pre-announcing chips it cannot supply. Chimpzilla was equally guilty of this shameless PR tactic back in June when it "launched" its Athlon well ahead of any processors actually being available. We suppose it's all about raising expectations -- and share prices. According to Japanese reader Battlax, 750MHz Athlons have only just become available on Tokyo's Akihabara. However, while Chipzilla and Chimpzilla fight on, customers are going to enjoy the prospect of having faster processors, cheaper and sooner. Given the high stakes involved, it's little wonder that the world's press, most not knowing the difference between a chip and a fish, are confused today... Meanwhile both noble steeds (shurely thish horshy metaphor hash gone too far, Ed) will race each other relentlessly towards the 1GHz finishing post, with AMD's Athlon still tipped to be the 6/5 on favourite. Both Chipzilla 2000 (INTC) and Chimpzilla 2000 (AMD) share prices will be worth watching today. Last week, Intel's price soared to close at $80¼ last Friday, while AMD's closed at $29½. Depending on well the spin jockeys have done, Chipzilla 2000 might well rise again today, although rumours persist that it may issue an earnings warning for its Q. Chimpzilla 2000, however, is still a good buy over the next couple of months if you're into this share thing (and we're not). ® See also Intel CuMine chips pre-announced, pre-announced again

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