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Intel, AMD begin selling fastest models yet of their flagship microprocessors

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SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) _ Intel Corp. and Advanced Micro Devices Inc. on Monday will begin selling the fastest models yet of their flagship processors, the electronic brains of personal computers.

Intel's new top Pentium 4 chips run at 2.2 gigahertz and 2 GHz, or 2.2 and 2 billion of cycles per second. AMD's latest, the Athlon XP 2000+, clocks in at 1.67 GHz.

Despite the speed difference, AMD says its Athlons are more efficient and perform better than faster Intel chips when it comes to running many of the most popular applications.

But Intel's new chips are the first to be built using a new process that allows smaller transistors and other features, including doubled on-chip memory and a 30 percent reduction in overall processor size.

That means the chips have a performance boost of roughly 10 percent, in addition to the boost that comes from increased processor speed, said Louis Burns, general manager of Intel's Desktop Platform Group.

Analysts also expect the new process technology to help Intel meet demand for the Pentium 4 as well as improve profit margins by increasing the number of chips produced from each silicon wafer.

``The cost structure is better. And they'll get more performance out of them,'' said Hans Mosesmann, an analyst at Prudential Securities. ``It's a very good deal for Intel.''

Intel's previous top chip was the 2 GHz Pentium 4, which was introduced in August. It was built using the older process technology.

The 2.2 GHz Pentium 4 will cost $562 when purchased in volumes of 1,000. The new 2 GHz chip is priced at $364 in volumes of 1,000. The Athlon XP 2000+ costs $339.
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