Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) has launched its most powerful desktop processor to date at the Cebit trade show in Hanover, Germany.

The Athlon 64 FX-53 will be used only in selected, powerful PCs for gaming and digital video editors, but it will replace the Athlon 64 FX-51 launched last September as the premier desktop chip in AMD's line-up. The FX-53 is based on the same packaging technology as its predecessor, so users will be able to use the new chip in their existing motherboards.

Like the rest of AMD's eighth generation Athlon 64 processors, the FX-53 allows users to run both 32-bit applications and 64-bit applications on the same PC, assuming they have a 64-bit operating system. Sales of AMD's desktop processors are not expected to take off until Microsoft releases a 64-bit version of Windows XP later this year, one year after it was originally promised.

A beta version of Windows XP 64-bit Edition for 64-bit Extended Systems is currently available. Several 64-bit production versions of Linux are available that can take advantage of the processor's ability to address larger amounts of memory.

In the meantime, the new chip should provide gamers and other power users with a boost in the performance of 32-bit applications. It will compete with Intel's Pentium 4 Extreme Edition processor for the high-end of the desktop market.

AMD raised the clock speed of the FX-53 by 200MHz to 2.4GHz. The chip uses a performance rating system that incorporates the rating "51" as a baseline, unlike AMD's other Athlon 64 and Athlon XP chips that use ratings such as the 3200+, which provides a comparison with Intel's chips.

The FX-53 will come with 1 megabyte of Level 2 cache, and will dissipate 89 watts of power at maximum consumption.

A limited number of chips will be made available to PC manufacturers worldwide as of Thursday, but AMD is expected to increase the number of available chips over the next few weeks. Systems will be available around the world from vendors such as Alienware, Evesham Technology and Visual Technology.

The chip will cost $733 (around £405) in quantities of 1,000 units.