Advanced Micro Devices will today (Monday 5 June) launch a family of 12 new souped-up Athlon processors, according to company officials.

The processors, previously code-named Thunderbird, could spark another speed war between AMD and rival chip maker Intel similar to the two companies' race to the once coveted 1GHz mark.

The new AMD processors will roll out in frequencies ranging from 750 MHz to 1GHz.

The chips will also feature 200-MHz bus speed and a 384KB on-chip cache that AMD officials are saying is the fastest on-chip cache for x86 processors on the market.

AMD is also expected to announce new speeds for its value-priced Duron processor, which is designed to compete with Intel's Celeron processor. New speeds for the Duron processor are expected to be 600, 650, and 700 MHz.

The announcement represents the first shipments of AMD Athlon processors based on 0.18 micron copper process technology from the chip maker's Dresden plant, according to AMD.

The addition of copper processors to the AMD line makes AMD, along with Compaq Computer, IBM, and Motorola, one of the few companies producing copper processors for use in the marketplace.