Intel invited a raft of IT industry leaders to San Jose last week for a preview of its Pentium III processor, which is due to be officially launched on 26 February.
The chip giant is preparing for the biggest product launch in its history and is about to introduce a $300 million worldwide advertising campaign - twice the size of its Pentium MMX push.
As a result, more than 200 companies demonstrated software or hardware optimised for the processor at San Jose, while Intel revealed it had set up a Website with special information for PIII owners.
The site, called Intel Web Outfitter, will enable consumers to download software and provide links to other sites optimised for the chip. Intel also demonstrated Excite Extreme, an internet search site with a three-dimensional interface.
The PIII is based on its predecessors, the Pentium Pro and Pentium II, but has 70 additional instructions, faster memory throughput and an improved floating point architecture. The instructions - formerly codenamed Katmai New Instructions - add single instruction multiple data capability to the chip, speeding up the processing of certain types of floating point calculations, although applications must be recompiled to take advantage of the enhancement.
The processor also includes a controversial built-in serial number, which caused an outcry when it was first unveiled because it enables all users to be identified over the internet.
The criticism prompted Intel to backtrack and the company says it has provided PC manufacturers with software to automatically turn off the serial number every time their PCs are rebooted.
The chip will be introduced next week with clock speeds of 450, 500 and, as Craig Barrett, president and chief executive of Intel revealed last week, 550MHz.
However, the 550MHz version will not ship until the second quarter, although the processor will reach clock speeds of more than 600MHz by the end of 1999.
While Intel has not yet disclosed pricing for the chip, Paul Otellini, executive vice president of Intel, said systems based on the processor would start at less than $2,000.
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