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AMD preps revitalised value CPU line

Duron endures?

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AMD's current public - due for an update, the company admits - lists the Duron line but notes that its survival into 2005 depends upon the 'requirements of the market'.

According to an Anandtech report, it seems the market does indeed require a value-end CPU from AMD - or at the very least that AMD still perceives a need to pitch against Intel's Celeron.

An internal roadmap seen by the site's correspondents reveal the addition of a series of Socket A, Socket 754 and Socket 939 32-bit processors aimed at the low-end PC market. The document indicates the chips will support a dual-channel memory bus at the top end of the line, and they will all offer the No Execute (NX) facility that Windows XP Service Pack 2 and other OSes will use to provide a level of protection against viruses.

The roadmap appears to show that the new line represents the merging on the Athlon XP line and Duron. As we've mentioned before, as Athlon 64 extends further downmarket as time goes by, it will push first into the space occupied by the Athlon XP and then into Duron territory. Indeed, 'Paris', AMD's next-gen. Athlon XP part due during H2 2004, will be an 256KB L2 Athlon 64 part with the AMD64 support excised from the die. 'Palermo', a 90nm version, is slated to ship during H2 2005.

It makes financial sense to make the maximum number of CPUs derive from the smallest number of cores, allowing AMD to offer a broad range of processors from the same wafers. If a chip fails as a 1MB L2 Athlon 64, it can be offered as a 512KB or 256KB part, and with the appropriate circuitry fused, as a 32-bit XP even.

The new CPU line appears to be scheduled to arrive during Q3, will a new model numbering scheme that will replace the XP's performance ratings with a three-digit code starting with 2xx. Interestingly, the Socket 754 and 939 parts begin at 3xx, allowing them to be placed alongside Intel's new Celeron 3xx model numbers. Crafty, huh?

Five Socket A parts corresponding to the XP 2600+ to 3200+ (numbered 260 to 320) will ship in Q3, along with a Socket 754 320. A Socket 754 350 and a Socket 939 340 will ship in Q4, with the Socket 929 360 appearing in Q2 2005.

As yet the CPU family is unnamed. ®

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