Vendors flock to Intel's New Pentium III, Celeron

www.computerworld.com –

Now let's see. It's a day of the week ending in "y," so it must be time for Intel Corp. to release some faster chips.

The giant chip maker yesterday released a 600-MHz version of its Pentium III processor, designed for high-performance desktops and workstations. Intel also increased the speed of its fastest Celeron processor, aimed at the budget PC market, to 500 MHz.

Intel and its only significant rival, Advanced Micro Devices Inc., have been releasing faster processors more or less in step with each other in recent months. AMD's 600-MHz Athlon processor, announced in June, is expected to hit the streets later this month.

Intel said the 600-MHz chip will most benefit consumers who play PC games and download multimedia and 3-D content from the Internet. Its pitch to business customers is better performance from data visualization, streaming video, speech recognition and other processor-intensive applications.

The 600-MHz Pentium III comes with 512K bytes of performance-boosting Level 2 cache memory and is priced at $669. The 500-MHz Celeron chip is priced at $167. Both prices are for 1,000-unit quantities. Intel's fastest Pentium III until yesterday ran at 550 MHz, its fastest Celeron at 466 MHz.

The following is a selection of the systems announced yesterday that use Intel's new chips:

For consumers, Hewlett-Packard Co. is offering the 600-MHz Pentium III in its Pavilion 8590C PC, priced at $2,299. The system includes 128M bytes of synchronous dynamic RAM and a six-speed DVD-ROM drive. HP will offer the 500-MHz Celeron in the Pavilion 8560C, priced at $1,099 with 96M bytes of SDRAM, a 12.7G-byte hard drive, a 56K bit/sec. fax/data modem and Polk Audio stereo speakers, HP said.

For corporate users, HP is offering the 600-MHz Pentium III in the Vectra VLi8. The system includes 64M bytes of SDRAM, a 13.5G-byte hard drive, a Matrox G200 graphics card and Windows NT. Pricing for the system hasn't been set, HP said. Also aimed at the business market, the Vectra VEi7 desktop with the 500-MHz Celeron chip is priced at $899. The system includes 32M bytes of SDRAM, a 4.3G-byte hard drive, a CD-ROM drive, a sound card and Windows 95.

HP also announced the Kayak XU PC Workstation with a 600-MHz Pentium III, priced at $3,509. The workstation includes 128M bytes of SDRAM, a 9.1G-byte SCSI hard drive and Windows NT 4.0, and it can sport a second processor. HP also announced a 600-MHz addition to its Visualize workstation family, starting at $3,300, and said it has cut prices by up to 13% off the rest of the Visualize family.

Micron Electronics Inc. is offering the 600-MHz processor in its Millennia Max PC, priced at $1,844. The system includes 128M-bytes of SDRAM, a 13.6G-byte hard drive, a six-speed DVD drive, a Diamond Viper AGP graphics card, Windows 98 and Office 2000, and a 17-in. monitor. A Millennia featuring the 500-MHz Celeron also shipped yesterday, starting at $998.

Micron is also offering a limited, one-year introductory subscription to EarthLink Sprint Internet access for $12.95 per month with any Micron PC, the company said.

For business customers, Micron introduced a 600-MHz ClientPro system starting at $1,999. A ClientPro with Intel's 500-MHz Celeron chip is priced at $1,129.The ClientPros include 10/100 Ethernet cards from 3Com Corp. and run on Windows NT.

Compaq Computer Corp. is offering the 500-MHz Celeron processor in its 5700N Presario desktops for consumers, starting at $1,009. It launched the 600-MHz Pentium III in its Presario 5700T series, priced starting from $1,649. Both series include a 15-in. monitor and can be configured with high-speed Digital Subscriber Line modems and larger hard drives, Compaq said.

For U.S. retail customers, Compaq also released yesterday the Presario 5724, which includes a 500-MHz Celeron processor and home phone-line networking capability for sharing Internet access, printers and files. That system starts at $1,099, excluding monitor.

For the business market, Compaq said the Deskpro EN, available in desktop, mini-tower and small form factor configurations, is shipping now with the Pentium III 600-MHz, starting at $2,239, including monitor. The systems include up to 10G-byte hard drives, 32-speed CD-ROM drives on select models and ATI Rage Pro Turbo 2X graphics cards. Compaq also announced immediate availability of new Deskpro EN and EP Series with Intel's Celeron 500-MHz processor, starting at $1,129 with monitor.

Compaq's AP200 and AP400 series workstations, meanwhile, feature single- and dual-processor configurations with the Pentium III 600 MHz and are available immediately starting from $2,671, Compaq said.

IBM announced availability yesterday of its 600-MHz 300PL desktops and mini-towers, which are aimed at corporate users and start from $1,895, excluding monitor. The Pentium III systems include up to 128M bytes of SDRAM and hard disk drive sizes ranging from 6.4G to 20.4G bytes, or 4.2G-byte Ultra ATA.

Also available yesterday were IBM's IntelliStation E Pro and M Pro workstations, which sport the Pentium III 600-MHz processor and are priced starting from $2,249 and $2,699, respectively. The E Pro comes standard with 128M bytes of Error Checking and Correcting (ECC) SDRAM. The M Pro can sport one or two processors and comes with 128M bytes or 256M bytes of ECC SDRAM, with capacities of up to 1G byte.

NEC Corp. launched the 600-MHz Pentium III in a PowerMate ES 5200 desktop. It is priced starting at $1,599 and includes a 4.3G-byte hard drive, 32M bytes of RAM and a 10/100 Ethernet card.

Silicon Graphics Inc. announced immediate availability of its 320 visual workstation with Intel's 600-MHz Pentium III processor in single- and dual-processor configurations. Prices start at $4,299 for a configuration including one processor, 128M bytes of RAM, a 6.4G-byte hard drive, a Cobalt graphics chip set, a keyboard and a mouse, SGI said.

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