More than 200 software and hardware developers demonstrated products optimised for Intel's forthcoming Pentium III processor.
At the preview event held in San Jose, the chip giant recognised that support from software developers was vital to the success of its next-generation processor because, unlike earlier CPU launches, the move from the current Pentium II to PIII will not significantly speed up existing applications - only those that are rewritten to take advantage of it.
While Intel has been secretive about the performance of PIII, it is not expected to show a significant speed improvement over its Pentium II or Celeron chips.
As a result, none of the software developers at the PIII preview were prepared to release exact data on the speed benefits the chip would bring, while some even claimed that Intel had asked them not to release any benchmark numbers. Intel insisted it wanted to keep the performance data secret until the official launch of the processor next week.
But Intel faced a similar challenge the last time it added instructions to its Pentium range at the launch of the Pentium II, which included MMX technology. While software developers were slow to implement the MMX instructions, this time Intel has worked closely with them to ensure that optimised applications were available at or shortly after the launch of the enhanced processor.
Most of the developer's products are expected to ship by the middle of this year.
The PIII instructions primarily speed up multimedia applications that are dependent on floating-point calculations, such as video compression, as well as three-dimensional graphics.
As expected, many of the first applications to support the instructions are in the games sector, although there was a number of business visualisation tools also on show.
Intel had originally planned to launch the PIII at the end of February, but decided to bring the date forward to a week before the unveiling of arch-rival AMD's K6-3 processor.
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