Athlon64 set for Sept. 22 release

Advanced Micro Devices is aiming to release a new generation of desktop and notebook chips on Sept. 22, according to an internal document inadvertently released by the company. AMD's press release schedule, accidentally made public in a mass e-mail on Monday, revealed that date for the unveiling of the Athlon64 for desktops and the Athlon64-M for notebooks. Hewlett-Packard has already said it will adopt Athlon64 in its desktop line. Last month, HP inadvertently posted specifications pertaining to the chip.

The Athlon64 is AMD's best chance yet to break into the market for business PCs. The chip comes with a number of performance enhancements, including an integrated memory controller. Additionally, it runs 32-bit software, the kind found on desktops today, and 64-bit software, found on high-end workstations and servers. Intel desktop chips don't have the latter capacity. AMD executives acknowledge that 64-bit desktops, which can take advantage of more memory than 32-bit desktops, will be relatively rare at first, but assert that gamers' enthusiasm and word-of-mouth marketing might be able to build momentum for these desktops.

The chip also comes as AMD continues to suffer financial losses and lose market share. From the end of 1986 through the first quarter of this year, AMD's cumulative net earnings, including sell-offs and acquisition expenses, come to about $221 million, about the same amount of money Intel makes every three weeks. AMD is expected to lose money in the second quarter as well.

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