AMD Unveils Latest Batch of High-End Processors

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Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD) unveiled three new high-end computer processors on Wednesday as the chipmaker battles rival Intel Corp. (INTC) for the "power users" that often set industry buying trends.

AMD also announced aggressive pricing for the chips, known as the Athlon 64 FX-70 series, which will be sold in pairs for $599 to $999, depending on performance.

The company's previous high-end chip, the FX-62, sells for $713.

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Computers equipped with more than one processor typically are servers or workstations — machines meant to run business networks or crunch mountains of data — rather than consumer desktop PCs.

AMD reckons such machines will increasingly appeal to what it calls "megataskers," consumers who use their computers for several intensive applications including gaming, burning DVDs and downloading movies, often at the same time.

"This market makes and drives everything. These are the ones people go to for PC advice. It is the most important market from the influential perspective," said Ian McNaughton, AMD's product manager for the Athlon 64 FX line.

Intel's latest offering for enthusiasts is its Core 2 Extreme, which is a quad-core chip made by sticking together two dual-core chips. Each core acts as a separate processor, allowing a computer to run several programs at the same time.

AMD popularized the use of dual-core chips, but it is not expected to launch a quad-core chip until next year, so it intends its new processors to be used in pairs, and has partnered with computer component makers such as Nvidia Corp. (NVDA) to supply parts enabling such an arrangement.

AMD's partners are also ensuring that when the quad-core chips hit the market, consumers can upgrade their machines by simply swapping in the new processors with no changes to the other hardware.

"What we're doing is we're bringing the workstation-type platform down into the mainstream," McNaughton said in an interview. "That's a really inexpensive way to get to four cores, and it's fully upgradeable to eight cores."