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AMD unveils MP Athlon – but no big-name partners

Athlon finally does MP properly

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Munich AMD has announced the multi-processing version of the latest Athlon iteration, based on the Palomino core, and the 760MP chipset that supports it, as predicted by world+dog.

The part also shipped today, in 1.0GHz and 1.2GHz versions. The 128mm square die contains 37.5 million transistors. The 760MP supports up to 4GB of PC2100 DDR SDRAM.

The Athlon MP features Smart MP technology, which is simply a brand name for AMD's implementation of a point-to-point CPU bus. Both processors operate on unique 266MHz frontside buses, both with 2.1GBps of bandwidth.

Of course a key question remains: will the big-name PC vendors - let alone server and workstation buyers - bite?

AMD's Euro spin chief, Robert Stead, is confident they will. "Where are Compaq or Dell? We're working with them," he said.

He's probably speaking generically, but the reference to Dell, given its Intel-only stance, is interesting. Particularly in the light of Thomas Wiesel Partners analyst Eric Ross' claims that Dell is about to sign up AMD's Mobile Athlon 4.

Certainly there are a fair few no-name PC makers who are offering systems based on the Athlon MP, in uni or dual-CPU boxes. Many of them are based on Tyan's Thunder K7 mobo.

As for four- and eight-way systems, don't expect them until Q2 2002 and the release of the 64-bit Hammer family, AMD says. The Athlon MP release is the first stey in a "multi-year plan".

But 12 months is a long time in the chip biz, and more than enough time for Intel to get 2GHz-plus Pentium 4s and Xeons out.

The pitch to corporates centres on AMD's continued support for Socket A. Its continued use "through 2002 and beyond" is all very well but unlikely to impress IT managers. Sure, a 760 MP can (presumably) take dual Hammers but it won't take four. And how many corporates spend money upgrading kit that'll be written down in a few years?

Meanwhile, AMD now has to get the desktop Palomino out. With the 1.4GHz Thunderbird Athlon now out the Palomino should come in next month at over 1.5GHz.

The 1.0GHz part costs $215 in 1000-unit batches. The 1.2GHz chip costs $265. ®

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