Advanced Micro Devices is shipping its 1.1 GHz Athlon processor to vendors. But you can't buy a system that uses the chip -- at least not yet.
That's because AMD says the new chip won't officially launch until August 28, which is when major vendors will also announce new systems.
AMD's announcement this week is just the latest in the battle of one-upmanship between the company and rival Intel, which announced shipment of limited quantities of its 1.13 GHz Pentium III chip on July 31.
So while both companies have "announced" new chips running faster than 1 GHz, there's little chance you'll actually be able to buy systems with the chips right away.
Jockeying for Attention
Is all of this posturing harmful to consumers? Probably not, says Mike Feibus, a principal analyst at Mercury Research.
Most consumers aren't looking to buy the latest and greatest processor, he says. Only truly high-end users will jump at the chance to buy systems with the very latest chip, which often carries a significant premium over the next-slower processor.
Premature chip announcements may frustrate those high-end processor fanatics, but that group is a small percentage of buyers.
More important to AMD and Intel is the market's perception of who is the leader in cutting-edge processor performance. Feibus says that perception can have "wide-ranging effects" for the seeming leader -- most importantly in future sales.
That positive perception is especially important to AMD as it tries to market the Athlon processor to corporate PC buyers, a group that has remained more faithful to Intel than consumer buyers have.
AMD also announced price cuts across the Athlon line in light of the 1.1 GHz chip's impending arrival, says Drew Prairie, an AMD spokesperson.
The new 1.1 GHz Athlon will sell for $US 853 in quantities of 1000. The price of the 1 GHz chip in the same quantity drops from $US990 to $US612; the 950 MHz from $US759 to $US460; the 900 MHz from $US589 to $US350; the 850 MHz from $US507 to $US282; and the 800 MHz drops from $US359 to $US215.
AMD will discontinue the 750 MHz Athlon chip, he says. The company also announced price cuts to its Duron chips, which were announced in June but have yet to show up in systems from major US vendors.
While AMD has lowered the price of Athlon chips, it may take some time for the cuts to show up in mainstream system prices.