Chip rivals Intel and AMD faced off today with the introduction of a re-engineered Intel Pentium 4 chip and a new AMD Athlon XP processor, each targeted at the high-performance desktop PC market.

The 2.2GHz Pentium 4 chip represents the debut of Intel's Northwood processor core, which uses 0.13-micron transistor relays and is faster and less expensive to produce than previous 0.18-micron chip cores, according to Intel. The 2.2GHz Pentium 4 is now Intel's fastest PC processor.

AMD's effort is the Athlon XP Processor 2000+, which raises the speed limit of AMD's new line of performance-rated Athlon XP chips by delivering clock cycles of 1.67GHz, according to AMD.

Benchmarking carried out by AMD shows the 2000+ outperforming a 2GHz Pentium 4 chip by as much as 23 percent when running a variety of common PC applications ranging from office productivity to gaming.

The Athlon XP Processor 2000+ is AMD's latest assault on Intel's commanding grip on the PC processor market. Last October, AMD stopped branding its Athlon chips by their clock speeds in an effort to better stress the overall performance delivered by Athlon XP processors.

"[The 2000+] is the next step in continuing to deliver that performance," said John Crank, brand manager for the Athlon XP line.

In line with Moore's Law, the smaller 0.13-micron chip fabrication process of the 2.2GHz Pentium 4 paves the way for generations of faster Pentium 4 chips. Intel is already predicting a 3GHz Pentium 4 by the year's end. For our previous story on the early Japanese debut of the 2.2GHz P4, click here.

AMD will shrink its own chip fabrication process from 0.18 microns to 0.13 microns during the first half of this year with AMD's Thoroughbred and Appaloosa chip cores, accelerating the performance of its Athlon XP processor as it goes.

Competition between AMD and Intel will come to a head in the forth quarter of 2002 when AMD introduces its Clawhammer processor core, a 64bit PC chip based on x86 architecture that AMD officials have called 'revolutionary'. No surprise there, then.

AMD's Clawhammer chip core will offer features like a built-in DDR (double data rate) memory controller that provides a shorter path to the processor and the DRAM memory, improving bandwidth and reducing processor latency, said Brookwood.