AMD is launching its 850MHz Duron processor this week, taking a speed jump that puts the AMD budget chip 50MHz ahead of Intel's recently announced 800MHz Celeron.
While the Duron's speed jump is noteworthy, the bigger news from AMD may be that it recently validated two new Duron-ready motherboards featuring cost-conscious integrated-graphics chipsets.
Unlike a separate graphics card, which has its own memory, integrated graphics chipsets draw on a system's main memory. Both Via Technologies and SIS are making such chipsets and motherboards from Asus and MSI have passed muster with AMD.
Duron PCs have largely outperformed comparable-speed Celeron-based systems in benchmarks. However, the processor's reliance on motherboards with separate - and expensive - graphics cards has slowed its adoption, according to Linley Gwennap, principal analyst with The Linley Group. Integrated graphics should help boost sales of the chip, he says.
"This is very important because the rollout of the Duron has been limited," he says. The systems AMD targets with the Duron are in the £600-£700 range and vendors need to use integrated graphics to meet that price, he says.
The drawback to integrated graphics is a lower graphics performance when compared to systems with stand-alone graphics, he says. So there's a chance the Duron's performance numbers will fall a bit in systems using the new chipsets, he says.
That, combined with Intel's recent increase in the Celeron's bus speed from 66 MHz to 100 MHz, will close the performance gap between comparable-speed chips, the analyst predicts. However, the Celeron's 100-MHz bus is still only half that of the Duron.