AMD aims to develop chips to rival...


AMD aims to develop chips to rival Intel's

Advanced Micro Devices Inc., a strong competitor of Intel Corp. in the microprocessor market, has turned up the heat by forming an alliance with Hewlett-Packard Co. to develop chips that contain as many as 10 million transistors.

Until now, AMD has prospered by turning out clones of Intel's earlier-generation microprocessors. But a court recently declared AMD has no right to duplicate the code on the current market leader, Intel's 80486. That has forced AMD to move ahead with development of "work-alike" code.

Chips resulting from the alliance announced last week would go up against Intel's Pentium processor, which is due this spring, and the planned chip named P6. The Pentium will have about 3 million transistors; the P6, twice that.

The alliance should be sobering for Intel, because such powerful processors would find their most likely applications -- at least initially -- in high-end workstations used for design and engineering, a market where HP has considerable experience.

Dell selling low-cost models in Japan

Dell Computer Corp., the fastest-growing Fortune 500 company, has brought its low-cost, mail-order strategy to Japan, joining several other U.S. companies that have turned the tables on the Japanese electronic giants.

Dell introduced six of its models in Japan on Friday, at lower prices than Japanese consumers have been used to seeing. Compaq Computer Corp., International Business Machines Corp., and Apple Computer Inc. have also brought out inexpensive machines in Japan in recent months.

For a long time, U.S. manufacturers had little hope of cracking the market in Japan. Their machines were ill-suited to displaying Japanese characters, and software did not cross the language gap gracefully. As a result, the Japanese makers cruised along with very comfortable profit margins.

Now, however, the hardware has perked up and software is being written with an eye toward global marketing. The result has been a virtual bar brawl in Japan's computer showrooms.

Dell should be a formidable competitor.

Founder Michael S. Dell, 27, has been pursuing an international strategy that now generates 40 percent of the company's total revenue. A Fairfax, Va., company has created software that translates ZTC between English and French, Spanish or German with what it claims is 90 percent accuracy.

Globalink Inc. said that the Power Translator package translates in full, idiomatically correct sentences. It includes dictionaries with 60,000 terms and phrases. It also has a section, useful in classrooms, that will show grammatical variations of a word.

PCs found to help cut hospital bills

Personal computers programmed to advise medical teams can cut the average hospital bill by 13 percent, according to a new study sponsored by the Federal Agency for Health Care Policy and Research in Rockville.

The Indiana University School of Medicine gave each ward in an Indianapolis hospital a network of three to five computers, linked to the hospital's medical records system. They were programmed to show a variety of data, including details on the cost of different tests and suggestions for cheaper alternatives.

After 16 months, the bills for the 5,000 patients in the study were 13 percent below average, and the average stay was reduced by almost a day.

Chelsea got to chat with pals back home

Poor Chelsea Clinton. Whisked off to a strange city, always under the microscope. But she's beginning to learn that her role as First Daughter has some fringe benefits.

Sure would be nice, some folks with the inaugural committee remarked to Southwestern Bell Corp. officials, if Chelsea could chat with her friends back home. And before you know it, Southwestern had set up a videoconferencing center in Little Rock, Ark., and arranged for Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone Co. to place similar equipment in Washington's Kennedy Center and for Sprint to provide the long-distance video connection.

While the adults celebrated last Tuesday, 12-year-old Chelsea was able to visit, for about 4 1/2 hours, with her former 7th-grade classmates and friends in Arkansas.

Southwestern Bell coupled the call with an exhibit on telecommunications and on the potential for using video in "distance learning," where teachers and students may be far apart.

Spokesman Scott Hilgeman said the company picked up the tab for the call, hiring C&P; and Sprint.

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