AMD details plans for next-generation K7 chip

In an effort to provide Taiwan's PC hardware industry with early access to technical information about its next-generation K7 processor, Advanced Micro Devices has officially inaugurated a new facility dedicated to engineering support. Winning the backing of Taiwan's chip set and motherboard makers will be crucial to ensure the success of the K7, which is scheduled for introduction in next year's first half, said AMD's vice president Richard Heye.

In an effort to provide Taiwan's PC hardware industry with early access to technical information about its next-generation K7 processor, Advanced Micro Devices has officially inaugurated a new facility dedicated to engineering support.

Winning the backing of Taiwan's chip set and motherboard makers will be crucial to ensure the success of the K7, which is scheduled for introduction in next year's first half, said Richard Heye, AMD's vice president and general manager of the company's Texas microprocessor division.

The K7 promises to give PC buyers a new high-performance alternative to Intel Corp.'s market leading processor offerings. K7 systems, however, are likely to be cheaper due to AMD's tradition of pricing its chips 25% lower than comparative Intel offerings.

A main focus of AMD's engineering specialists at the new Far East Infrastructure Organization (FEIO) facility in Taipei will be to provide technical assistance to allow the company's Taiwanese partners to shorten the time-to-market cycle for chip sets and motherboards for the K7, said Heye, who is responsible for the K7 product line.

Due to the high costs of developing the initial chip set designs for the K7, which will use a new processor interface dubbed Slot A, AMD will introduce an in-house developed, fully functional chip set when the processor is launched, but will make the technology available to third-party vendors for free, Heye said.

"I am probably the only product manager at AMD who wants to lose market share as quickly as possible," said Heye.

Slot A will be mechanically identical to the Slot 1 interface that Intel uses for its Celeron and Pentium II processors, but will be based on a different system bus architecture which means that the two companies' chips will not be able to run on the same motherboards. The K7 will use the EV-6 bus technology AMD has licensed from Digital Equipment Corp., while Intel relies on its proprietary P6 bus architecture.

The K7 will run at clock speeds of 500MHz and 550MHz when it is introduced sometime in next year's second quarter, according to AMD's roadmap.

In addition to supporting Taiwanese chip set makers, the new infrastructure team will also assist the island's motherboard makers to design and validate their boards for both the existing K6-2 and the forthcoming K7 processors.

"Over 80%of all systems sold with AMD processors are based on Taiwan-made motherboards," said Heye.

AMD's FEIO facility currently has a staff of 11, which will be boosted to around 20 by year's end, and 25 by 1999, officials said.

AMD is based in Sunnyvale, California, and can be reached or on the World Wide Web at http://www.amd.com/.

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