AMD sends Durons to emerging markets

Amid the countdown to the launch of its highest-performing processor yet, Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD) quietly released three Duron chips for low-end desktops aimed at price-conscious buyers last week.

AMD had said in 2002 it was planning to phase out the Duron chip, and hadn’t released a new Duron for desktops since January 2002. But customers in emerging markets such as China, Latin America, and Eastern Europe are looking for cheap PCs, and Duron chips are in demand from system builders, an AMD spokesperson said.

The Sunnyvale, Calif., company has released three versions of the chip at 1.4GHz, 1.6GHz, and 1.8GHz. The new Durons are built on a new core with a 266MHz front-side bus, an improvement over the 200MHz front side bus in older Durons. The chip was also built on AMD’s 130-nanometer process technology, while older Durons were built on 180-nanometer process technology.

AMD plans to make the chips available through systems builders worldwide, but most of the demand will come from emerging markets, the spokesperson said. The new Durons will only be available in quantities of 1,000 processors through distributors such as Avnet Inc.

Pricing for the new Durons is only available through Avnet, the AMD spokesperson said. An Avnet spokeswoman did not have the pricing information immediately available Tuesday.

AMD is expected to launch the Athlon 64 processor on Sept. 23 in San Francisco. One of the first 64-bit processors released for desktops, the Athlon 64 will be sold to a very different group of users than the Durons.

Only high-end gamers and some workstation users are expected to make use of the Athlon 64 right away, as not many operating systems or applications are available that can take advantage of the processor’s 64-bit capabilities.