New PC Processor the Fastest Yet

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650 megahertz is the magic number -- that's how fast the new processor from Advanced Micro Devices Inc. runs, faster than Intel's formerly-state-of-the-art Pentium III, which runs at 600 MHz, and faster than anything currently available for the PC. AMD's new chip, the Athlon (who comes up with these names?), will officially go on the market next week. Can it do what so many have failed to do before - dethrone Intel?

AMD has been trying for years to offer serious competition to Intel in the chip market, but until now its efforts have been frustrated - sometimes by manufacturing problems, sometimes by technical issues, and always by Intel's deep pockets, which allow it to undersell its rivals whenever its market share shows signs of slipping, as it did earlier this year. Another rival, Cyrix, couldn't take the pressure and shuttered its doors this past spring. MORE >>