After the confusion of Intel's multi-faceted Core i3 and i5 chips, AMD has followed up with more of the same, launching a clutch of new processors based on current technology.

The new chips are mostly about improving price-performance in the light of Intel's range, and probably the main standout is the Phenom II X2 555 ‘Black Edition', the company's fastest two-core model to date at 3.2GHz, not taking into account overclocking headroom.

At only $99 (£61) to system makers, and with a moderate power draw of 80 watts, this looks like a certainly for entry-level systems where it will be the alternative to Intel's more expensive Core i3 530, which runs at about the same clock speed.

Sticking to the core theme abandoned by Intel, the company announced four other mostly budget chips, including the Athlon II X4 635, a four core model to take on Intel's still-popular Core 2 Quad Q8300 or newer Core i3 540.

Consumers now face a small blizzard of similar-sounding chips from AMD, not to mention Intel's new delineation of two-core Core i3 chips, two-core Core i5 chips, and four-core i5s and i7s. Some have hyperthreading, which looks like four cores to the operating system, while older ones don't. Even clock speeds are becoming confusing since Intel's Turbo Boost allows chips to raise clock speeds if power drain and cooling allows.

In truth, the success of AMD's strategy comes down to price, with their parts taking root in lower-end systems, while Intel rules further up the price scale. The use of the ‘Black Edition' moniker is AMD's attempt at marketing itself as a credible high-end processor maker. At least the company is once again profitable after 13 hard quarters without making a cent.

AMD offers a full comparison of the Phenom II and Athlon II families, including new models, on its website.

Find your next job with techworld jobs