Latest Intel chip coming soon to federal PC users

Intel has shipped more than 100,000 chips in 233- and 266-MHz clock speeds, and a
300-MHz version should be ready within 60 days. The chips are PC processors, although some
vendors plan to deliver workgroup servers this summer. Intel's next chip, code-named
Deschutes and server-optimized, won't arrive until 1998.


The Pentium II has been described as a Pentium Pro with MMX multimedia instructions.
speedier handling of 16- and 32-bit applications, and Intel's Dual Independent Bus (DIB)
design lets the processor talk to its onboard 512K Level 2 cache at the same time it talks
to the computer's PCI bus.


Initial benchmark testing by the GCN Lab showed strong performance gains for the
Pentium II.


Microsoft Corp. announced that its Office 97 applications run two to four times faster
with the new chip.


But bug reports have surfaced about the Pentium II as well as its predecessor, the
Pentium Pro. PC makers and Intel officials downplayed these reports, published on the
World Wide Web at http://www.x86.org.


James Song of the Intel Architecture Labs called the reports "just unpublished
errata. If we see there are problems, Intel will take steps to correct them."


The calculation errors apparently occur when floating-point numbers are converted to
integers. Few users perform such calculations, and the errors had not been reported
previously in the Pentium Pro's two-year life.


In contrast to the situation four years ago with the Pentium floating-point calculation
errors, Intel is being responsive to the current bug reports, PC makers said.


More than 100 manufacturers have announced Pentium II systems, among them popular
government vendors such as Gateway 2000 Inc. of North Sioux City, S.D., Intergraph Corp.
of Huntsville, Ala., Micron Electronics Inc. of Nampa, Idaho, Digital Equipment Corp. and
IBM Corp.


Compaq Computer Corp. and Dell Computer Corp. promised the imminent arrival of 233-MHz
Pentium II systems on their General Services Administration schedule contracts. Compaq's
new Deskpro 4000 will start around $2,500, without monitor, for a configuration with 32M
RAM, 2.5G hard drive, 2M video memory, CD-ROM drive, sound, built-in 10-megabit/sec
Ethernet and Microsoft Windows NT 4.0.


Government vendors also announced 266-MHz systems starting around $3,500. Packard Bell
NEC Inc. of Westlake Village, Calif., will price its Pentium II at $3,705 for government
buyers.


Among the systems demonstrated at the Intel announcement were a dual 300-MHz Pentium II
workstation from Dell and a beefed-up Pentium II running at 400 MHz.


The Pentium II ultimately could reach 500 MHz but probably will be limited to dual-chip
motherboards. The server-optimized chip, code-named Deschutes, will operate from 300 MHz
up, with 1M of onboard Level 2 cache. Deschutes is intended for four-way or larger server
configurations.


Meanwhile, vendors have cut prices for their current Pentium Pro systems. Compaq, for
example, has announced 23 percent price cuts almost across the board for Pentium Pro
computers.


inside gcn

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