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-- by Jim Forbes
Just as notebook makers are putting the finishing touches on their first MMX Pentium-equipped systems, sources briefed by Intel tell us the company is quietly readying a new technology that will make it easier for manufacturers to move to the next generation of MMX technology.
Tentatively dubbed the microprocessor module option (MMO), the technology is expected to debut in portable computers this year, according to Intel insiders. What's different about MMO is that it moves a notebook computer's microprocessor off the motherboard and onto a 280-pin module that fits in a special socket. The technology's net result will be notebooks that you can easily upgrade with more powerful processors, expanding portable computers' usual extremely limited lifetime.
With MMO, manufacturers will be able to begin shipping portable computers that use the next-generation MMX chips on the day they become available, senior executives of PC manufacturers noted. The chip being developed by Intel under the code name Klamath is the one system vendors have their eyes on.
The newest member of the Pentium Pro family, Klamath is enhanced with the MMX instruction set. Expected to be available in either the third or fourth quarter of this year, this chip will serve as the basis for a new generation of portable computers. Processor speeds could start at 200MHz. The new systems will work with new graphics technology such as Intel's Accelerated Graphics Port (AGP) and a 3-D chip being developed by Intel and Lockheed Martin.
The first Klamath Pentium Pro notebooks should hit the market at its high end. Most analysts predict introductory pricing from $4,500 to $5,500 for the systems.