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February 17, 1999


By CBR Staff Writer

Intel Corp previewed the Pentium III processor yesterday at a major event in San Jose, in advance of its official launch next Tuesday, February 23rd at the Intel Developer’s Forum. Some 200 partners were on hand at the event to preview software and other products supporting the new chip, while Intel emphasized the faster 3D graphics and speech recognition capabilities enabled by the new Katmai multimedia instructions. The chip itself will come in 450MHz and 500MHz clock speeds, with a 550MHz version widely expected in the second quarter. Intel is spending some $300m on the marketing campaign for the Pentium III, which it hopes will help shift the increasing trend towards lower-end products showing up in its sales figures back up towards higher margin products. The Katmai instructions, which include Streaming SIMD single-instruction multiple data extensions, supersede MMX, which despite being the focus of a successful marketing campaign, had little effect on applications performance, largely because tools to optimize program weren’t made available. This time, Intel is making sure the latest version of its Vtune Performance Enhancement Environment supports the new Streaming SIMD Extensions along with other capabilities of the processor. Vtune 4.0 supports, C, C++, Java, Fortran, Borland Delphi and Microsoft Visual Basic, and includes a native Java compiler called the ByteCode Accelerator. It ships in March, for $429 per copy, $169 for upgrades. At the San Jose event, Intel and its partners demonstrated such applications as 3D web searching, multiple path 3D movies, video telephony, digital imaging, e-commerce sites with audio, video and 3D content, and software development tools for digital content creation, all optimized for the new instructions. Computer privacy advocates are still suspicious of one of the Pentium IIIÆs new features, the PSN selectable processor serial number embedded in the chip, which enables internet content providers to gather information about visitors to their sites. Intel emphasized that the feature would be controlled by users, and is advising its OEMs to have the feature set in default off position before shipments. Meanwhile, Advanced Micro Devices Inc is expected to launch its K6-III chip this Monday, on the day before the official Pentium III launch. The K6-III may rival the Pentuim III in performance, and AMD is expected to undercut IntelÆs pricing. AMDÆs share of the Intel-compatible processor market rose from 6.7% in the first quarter of 1998 to 16.1% by the fourth quarter, while IntelÆs share declined from 85.3% down to 76.1%, according to figures from Mercury Research. But AMD will not be able to match Intel in immediate production capacity. AMD blamed price reductions at Intel as the reason behind its expectations of posting an operating loss in its current quarter (CI No 3,592). Meanwhile, Intel cut prices once again on Tuesday, reducing the price of its low-end Celeron chip by up to 24%. The 400MHz Celeron was reduced 16% to $133 from $158. Prices on the 366MHz part were reduced 24% to $93 from $123. And prices for the 333MHz version went down 11% to $63 from $71.

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