Today is AMD's big day; it is the third year anniversary of the Athlon processor and to celebrate it, AMD is giving the Athlon XP some much needed attention.

AMD had been losing their grip on the performance crown to the point where the Athlon XP was no longer a faster performer than the fastest Pentium 4, but it was still a better value. The value proposition had been AMD's game during the days of the K5 and the K6, but just being a good value wasn't enough for the Athlon - especially not on its birthday.

Thus AMD took their very small Thoroughbred core and did what was necessary to be able to release two new model numbers - the Athlon XP 2400+ and XP 2600+. This launch was not supposed to happen for a while, but with Intel's Pentium 4 2.80GHz due in a matter of days AMD felt it was necessary to one-up the giant.

In doing so, AMD actually mimicked Intel's own actions a couple years ago. Back when the original Athlon was the first to hit 1GHz, Intel pulled in the launch of their 1GHz Pentium III to remain publicly competitive. Intel did this despite the fact that their 1GHz CPUs had not entered mass production and only a handful of samples were available, shipping to OEMs and the press of course. Intel became known for perfecting the "paper-launch" with the Pentium III, in response to overwhelming performance from AMD's Athlon.

Perhaps with a similar goal in mind - to steal some of Intel's thunder - AMD is "releasing" their 2400+ and 2600+ CPUs well before they hit mass production. The CPUs are sampling now but retail availability isn't expected until September with volume shipments occurring sometime between now and then.

With the logistics of AMD's launch aside, they have done some very interesting things in order to improve the competitiveness of the Athlon XP with these two new parts.

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