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February 28, 1999


By CBR Staff Writer

Little was left to say about the Pentium III after the last few weeks of frenetic activity by the time it was finally launched officially last Friday, other than the price. In quantities of 1,000, the 500-MHz part costs $696 and 450-MHz versions are $496. Pricing for the 550-MHz version, due next quarter, will be revealed later. Advanced Micro Devices Inc’s competing 450-MHz K6-III processor, which AMD claims is comparable in performance to the 500-MHz Pentium III, costs slightly less at $476 for 1,000. Predictably, hundreds of PC manufactures announced machines ready to ship or due shortly. Prices for complete, fully-configured systems were generally below $2,000. Next month, Intel plans to launch its WebOutfitter service, in cooperation with content providers, offering free access to content and tools and offering performance tips for users. But as performance details of the Pentium III were revealed (see Intel’s web site at index.htm) criticism was mounting that the chip’s performance when compared with current Pentium IIs was not sufficiently differentiated to justify the massive marketing campaign. Most analysts consider the Pentium III not as a full next-generation architecture, but as a Pentium II with additional 3D graphics instructions, currently mostly of interest to games developers, and the processor serial number security feature, which is currently causing Intel all sorts of trouble (see separate story). Intel claimed that commercial users will also benefit with a 10% performance increase in database performance from the Pentium III, largely through the more advanced cache control, and that TCP/IP performances would also be boosted. Meanwhile, PC Data’s January retail figures showed AMD ahead of Intel in the US retail market for the first time, with the K6 accounting for 43.9%. Intel was second on 40.3% and Cyrix Corp third with 15.8%. AMD’s sales were strongest in the sub $1,000 category, and Intel retained its leadership in systems costing above $1,000, with over two-thirds of unit sales.

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