AMD to put Palomino on desktop this quarter

Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD) is set to launch its first desktop processor based on its Palomino core, the company confirmed Wednesday.

The Sunnyvale, California-based chipmaker will begin shipping a Palomino-based 1.5GHz Athlon this quarter, company spokesman Ward Tisdale confirmed. The Palomino core features several improvements over AMD’s current Thunderbird core, including SSE (Streaming Single Instruction-Multiple Data Extensions) instruction support, data pre-fetching and improved power management functions.

“This will be an extremely competitive part,” said Kevin Krewell, a senior analyst with MicroDesign Resources. “The Athlon 1.5 will be very comparable to (Intel Corp.’s) Pentium 4 in the 1.9 (GHz) to 2GHz range.”

The new processor, though still manufactured using 0.18-micron technology, will be based on the Palomino core, which is used in the company’s Athlon 4 mobile processor.

“Palomino is a nice improvement over Thunderbird,” Krewell said. “There’s enough bump in performance that it’s a worthwhile part.”

The Palomino core will feature SSE instructions, which will help performance, and data prefetching, which brings data into the memory cache before the processor needs it, Krewell said.”It is also supposed to have better power management,” he said.

Power management is becoming a challenge in the current Thunderbird core, where it’s becoming difficult to raise the frequency without increasing power consumption, Krewell said. The fastest Athlon processor that AMD currently offers on the desktop is 1.4GHz.

AMD is expected to make the transition to its 0.13-micron Thoroughbred core in the first quarter of next year, so Palomino probably will only be around for six to nine months before the company makes the transition, Krewell said.

AMD, in Sunnyvale, Calif., can be reached at

(Sam Costello of the IDG News Service Boston bureau contributed to this story.)

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