More than a dozen PC system builders are expected to rally around Intel Corp’s Pentium II at its introduction today, including Compaq Computer Corp, IBM Corp, Hewlett-Packard Co and Fujitsu Ltd. The Pentium II – basically a Pentium Pro with added MMX multimedia instructions – will cost $600 as a 233MHz device, $725 operating at 266MHz, while a high-end 300MHz part not expected to ship in any quantity until the second half of the year is being pegged at pricey $1,850. Pentium II’s expected to perform 20% to 50% faster than Intel’s four-year old Pentium microprocessor and is being targeted at systems which should cost between $2,500 and $4,000. Reports which quote Dataquest forecasts say Intel will sell between 15 million and 17 million Pentium Pro and Pentium II chips this year, while sales of rival Advanced Micro Devices Inc’s K6, some 25% cheaper than Pentium II, will garner sales to four or five million. While K6 – which AMD inherited from its NexGen acquisition – and Cyrix Corp parts fit in motherboard slots designed to hold Pentium chips, Pentium II’s new cartridge packaging and a second level cache chip use different slot design, which will take AMD and Cyrix time to support. It’s not going to be plain sailing for Intel, even if it has managed to win back bragging rights by cranking Pentium II up to 300MHz compared with K6’s 233MHz. Electronic Buyers News believes the delayed introduction of some supporting chip sets will hamper delivery of fully-functional Pentium II systems. The 440LX chips – now not due until the third quarter – includes the AGP Accelerated Graphics Port technology which is an Intel motherboard connection providing display adapters with a high- speed interface to main memory. Vendors are expected to create Pentium II systems using the older Pentium 440FX chip set until the LX ships, while Opti Inc and VIA Technologies Inc are said to be planning their own versions of AGP by the end of the year. The paper says Intel’s hold up has likely been prompted by Microsoft’s delaying of its Memphis operating system – the Windows 97 product now referred to as Win9x – which will include driver support for AGP. Other companies, including S3 Inc are working on 3D graphics controllers that will plug into AGP. The paper also hears volume deliveries of the Auburn 3D chip set – being developed in conjunction with Lockheed Martin Corp and Chips and Technologies Inc – won’t now begin until the first half of next year.