AMD samples copper Athlons

AMD has begun shipping samples of its first copper-based x86 microprocessors.

Code-named Thunderbird, the upcoming Athlon chip with integrated Level 2 cache and copper interconnects is expected to ship by midyear. Company officials said the chip's clock speed won't be revealed until June.

Because of its low resistivity compared to conventional aluminum, copper interconnects offer a major boost in performance in high-end microprocessors and, more recently, in field-programmable gate arrays.

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