Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) today launched the first members of its new Duron family of low-cost processors, running at 600MHz, 650MHz and 700MHz.

Duron is aimed at value-conscious home and business users, and should be a potent competitor to Intel's Celeron processor.

Analysts agreed, adding that Duron should help AMD keep pace with Celeron's performance and maintain a high level of competition between the two firms.

While today marks the official launch of the chip, none of the leading PC makers were ready to offer a Duron system yet.

AMD said it expects Fujitsu-Siemens to be its biggest PC supplier in Europe.

Duron is AMD's first processor for budget PCs that takes advantage of an advanced chip design, or "microarchitecture," that was unveiled last year for its higher-performance Athlon processor.

Among the improvements is a speedier 200MHz system bus. The system bus is a conduit that funnels data between the processor and other parts of a PC.

The Duron also includes a larger on-chip memory cache than the K6-2, and AMD's Enhanced 3DNow instructions, designed to boost multimedia performance.

The fastest version of Intel's Celeron available today runs at 600MHz, but the chip giant later this month plans to release faster versions running at 633MHz, 667MHz and 700MHz, according to a source close to Intel.