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-- by James Alan Miller
MMX has barely arrived-and it's already hitting the road. Early this year, Compaq, NEC, Toshiba and other prominent portable PC makers are expected to introduce full-featured MMX notebooks sporting large, flashy color screens and, in certain cases, videoconferencing support.
MMX notebooks will be built for speed: They are expected to boast a 150MHz or 166MHz Pentium processor-enough horsepower for even the most demanding applications. Both chips are optimized for mobile use, thanks to their low-voltage design.
Because MMX processors are intended for multimedia apps, the new notebooks will be equipped with the latest in multimedia gear. MMX laptops, such as those from Toshiba (pictured) and Micron, will have a 12.1-inch (or larger) active-matrix color screen, MPEG II video and a high-speed CD-ROM drive (most likely an 8X or 10X)
Not everyone needs MMX on the road. If you're a number cruncher using accounting or statistics software, you might want to circumvent the MMX chip and buy a similarly priced Pentium Pro system instead. MMX technology improves only integer operations in a Pentium, while a Pentium Pro (even without MMX) enhances both integer and floating-point calculations to some extent.
So what will one of these mobile multimedia marvels cost? Expect to see MMX notebooks starting at about $5,000, or a few hundred dollars more than traditional, similarly equipped Pentium notebooks without MMX support. Once Intel hits its production stride, you shouldn't have to pay a premium for MMX systems because implementing the new chip requires only minor changes to a notebook's motherboard and BIOS.
Copyright © 1997 CMP Media Inc.