266MHz Pentium II to Ship in May
-- by Jonathan Blackwood and Jim Forbes
Intel is putting the pedal to the metal with its fastest chip to date: the Pentium II, code-named Klamath. The new microprocessor is expected to start shipping this month in 233MHz and 266MHz versions. Intel has steadily increased the power and capabilities of its microprocessors, virtually doubling the speed every two years.
Six years ago, a state-of-the-art desktop computer equipped with a 33MHz 80486 processor cranked out 20MIPS. Today, a 200MHz Intel Pentium with MMX technology routinely churns out data at 385MIPS-nearly 20 times faster than the 486.
The new 266MHz chip can output 559MIPS, according to our preliminary benchmarks, making it an order of magnitude faster than the 486 family and more powerful than some mainframe and super minicomputers of the 1980s. The 233MHz chips will cost around $700 each in quantities of 1,000, according to sources at Intel who asked not to be named. No price has been estimated for the 266MHz version of the chip.
The Pentium II is Intel's latest weapon against rival Advanced Micro Devices. In 1996, Intel cross-licensed its MMX technology to AMD, which is readying chips to compete against current Intel P55C, Pentium Pro and future processors.
AMD's latest introduction is the K6. This new chip has 8.8 million transistors (compared to 5.5 million for a Pentium Pro) and produces 447MIPS at 233MHz under Windows 95. It also operates at clock speeds of 166MHz and 200MHz, with 266MHz due later this year. (See Reviews/What's Hot for details on the K6.)
Cyrix has a processor that includes similar functionality to Intel's MMX technology. Due out this summer, it's expected to perform at a level similar to that of the AMD-K6.
Intel is also hard at work on a 233MHz P55C Pentium for desktops, expected out this month in the $500 to $600 price range; it's also readying a 133MHz P55C for notebooks for release this summer. The company declined to comment on future products.