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AMD wins further round in fierce Intel desktop price war

Chips away at prices, still big shortages

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Updated The price war between AMD and Intel is on -- and with a vengeance. As predicted here two months back, both firms made big cuts on their top-of-the-range desktop processor range today. But shortages still make Slot One Intel processors hard to find, particularly at higher clock speeds, reliable sources in the channel tell The Register, while motherboards for the AMD Athlon parts are now plentiful and inexpensive. The CPUs from AMD are also widely available, the same sources indicate. Large businesses and consumers who made the decision to postpone buying will reap the benefit of the moves over the next few days, as PC manufacturers accordingly cut prices on their machines. The figures show that AMD continues to chip away at Intel's average selling prices (ASPs), with some dramatic differences between prices on what, on the face of it, are similar parts. Intel made price cuts ranging between seven and 31 per cent on its Pentium III desktop processors using its .18 micron Coppermine technology. The prices, which are when 1,000 units are bought even took into account one of the latest introductions, the 750 MHz part, which is now $744 ($803). The 733MHz part now costs $594($754), the 700MHz $562 ($733), the 666 MHz part $449 ($583), the 650MHz $423 ($562), the 600MHz $316 ($444), the 550MHz Pentium III Coppermine $241 ($348) -- a 31 per cent cut -- and the 533MHz $214 ($284). The .25 micron 500MHz now costs $193 ($229), showing that this part is being phased out. Note that these are prices for Slot One microprocessors, it will be a little while before the Socket 370 design knocks Slot One out of the picture. Distributors supplied us with the new pricing for the AMD Athlon range. These are OEM prices, apart from the newer 800MHz CPU. Again, former prices for the parts are shown in brackets. The Athlon 500MHz processor has now moved out of the picture, and the 550MHz Athlon is now the entry level Athlon at $217 ($317). The 600MHz now costs $217 ($305), the 650MHz Athlon $290 ($565), the 700MHz $480 ($695), the 750MHz Athlon $585 ($819) and the 800MHz Athlon, which thus far only is available in a boxed model now costs $790 ($1,154). (Apologies for an earlier update late last night which transposed Canadian $ prices for US $ prices -- we do know the difference.) Intel also took the axe to prices on some Xeon Pentium IIIs, aimed at the server and workstation market. The 733MHz/256K cache costs $644 ($804), the 666MHz/256K cache $499 ($633), and the 600MHz/256K $425 ($494). Intel is expected to introduce Pentium III Xeons with far larger caches (Cashcades) over the next weeks.

Clock Speed Athlon Coppermine Difference
550 MHz $217 $241 $24
600 MHz $246 $316 $75
650 MHz $292 $423 $131
700 MHz $483 $562 $79
800 MHz $790 $851 $61

The table above illustrates the price differences between comparable AMD Athlon and Pentium III Coppermine parts at the OEM level -- that is when microprocessors are bought in 1000s. The exception is the 800MHz Athlon, which currently is only available in a boxed version. This, however, does not paint the whole picture. Distributors, dealers and PC manufacturers tell us there is a very big shortage of Slot One Intel chips, while motherboards using the new S370 flip chip packaging are not only as rare as hen's teeth, they are very expensive. Further, Intel processors over 700MHz are still in very short supply, according to our information. Neither Ingram Micro nor Tech Data have large stocks of the flagship Intel processors. In contrast, Athlon boards are available at around $100, the microprocessors are, according to one dealer "in excellent supply" and no compatibility problems have so far emerged on AMD's parts. This does not spell good news for Intel in the short or medium term. According to one customer of Intel, a PC manufacturer, there is indeed a big shortage of parts. The following Pentium IIIs are available, and in his words, "that's it": The 600E/EB, the 650E, the 666EB, the 700E, the 733EB and the 750E. ®

See alsoIntel to make Coppermine price cuts earlier than expectedIntel starts to shuffle prices, specsAMD to massacre Intel on St Valentine's Day

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