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-- by Jim Forbes
Just when you thought Intel couldn't possibly introduce yet another variant-especially one with a new performance threshold-it did exactly that. In fact, news of the 300MHz Pentium II caught even veteran Intel-watchers by surprise.
Intel's new family of Pentium II processors has three iterations-233MHz, 266MHz and 300MHz. While most members of the series have already arrived in desktops, the 300MHz offering is only now being supplied to PC makers; it will become commercially available by the fall.
The old rivals
The new chip isn't the only interesting development on the microprocessor front. Of late, the competition-such as is it is, given Intel's dominance-has been heating up. American Microprocessor Devices has been getting quite a bit of attention with its K6 family, which also supports Intel's MMX instruction set. Then there's Cyrix, which, having reached an out-of-court settlement with Intel, is set to launch M2, its own response to Intel's MMX (see Newstrends, June)
And a new one
AMD and Cyrix are expected to be joined by a third company in the race to produce x86- or Pentium-compatible chips- a custom semiconductor maker called Integrated Device Technologies (IDT), which in May was expected to unveil a product that will also compete with Intel. While that processor lacks the bells and whistles of Intel's new Pentium II family, it could find a place in the burgeoning under-$1,000 home PC market.
While IDT's plans had not been spelled out at press time, this is clearly a very tough market. In the past, huge companies such as NEC, Texas Instruments and United Microelectronics have all tried to compete with Intel-and failed. But with the x86-compatible market estimated to be approaching $20 billion, Intel will probably never lack for competition.