Intel Plan 600-MHz Pentium III For September Release

Intel plans to release a 600-MHz Pentium III processor in September with a 133-MHz system bus and 256 kilobytes of integrated Level 2 cache, according to an Intel price sheet examined by Computer Retail Week. The 600-MHZ Pentium III, the first high-end Intel chip to be united with its secondary cache, will be priced at $761 in quantities of 10,000. Integrating the L2 cache onto the processor die tends to significantly increase processing power. Current Celeron processors with 128 KB of integrated L2 cache can closely match performance of a Pentium II with 512 KB of L2 cache on the Slot 1 module, for example.

The new processor also bumps up clock speeds significantly, helping Santa Clara, Calif.-based Intel distance its processors from rival Advanced Micro Devices' CPUs. At the same time, Intel will reduce pricing on its existing Pentium III processors. The 500-MHz Pentium III, initially released in March, will drop about 50 percent, from $625 this month to $299 in September.

"That's a pretty fast drop for a high-end chip," said Bill Bryant, general manager of Datel Systems, a retail chain based in San Diego. Also scheduled for release in September is a 533-MHz Pentium III with a 133-MHz system bus at $415. A 550-MHz Pentium III with a 100-MHz system bus is slated for May at $730, dropping to $696 in July and $520 in September. Pentium II processors receive similar price reductions, culminating in identical pricing schemes for the Pentium II 450-MHz and the Pentium III 450-MHz from May to September.

In addition to high-end desktop CPUs, Intel's pricing road map shows plans for the first Pentium III mobile chip with Geyserville, a code-name for a technology that reduces power consumption in high-speed processors. That 1.6-volt part will be released at 600 MHz or higher with 256 KB of on-chip L2 cache at $761. Geyserville processors are dual-mode, operating at higher clock speeds when plugged into a wall outlet and automatically switching to lower frequencies when running on a battery. The idea is to deliver desktop-equivalent speeds when drawing electrical power and dropping down to typical portable speeds when using limited resources of batteries.

Bryant said he expects Geyserville notebooks to initially appeal to businesses purchasing high-end notebooks. "Top-of-the-line notebooks run about $4,000, and by the end of the year, you are still going to be spending in that range," he said. "Those CPUs will be significant next year when the price comes down low enough that they will be in the mid-price range."

Other mobile Pentium III chips also will be released in September. Intel is scheduled to ship 1.3-volt 450-MHz and 500-MHz mobile Pentium IIIs, priced at $341 and $520, respectively.

Additional highlights in Intel's price road map include a 667-MHz Pentium III Xeon with 256 KB of integrated L2 cache set to ship in September at a $1,040 price point. The Celeron 333-MHz (with 128 KB of L2 cache on die) will drop from $81 this month to $61 in July, and a 500-MHz Celeron is slated to ship in September at $185. At the low end, Intel is expected to release shortly its new chip set, model 810, which integrates fairly high-end audio and video functionality in an effort to reduce overall system prices.


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