550MHz Pentium III Systems on the Way

System vendors will use the Intel announcement next week of a 550-MHz version of the Pentium III to add new desktops and workstations to their product lines.

System vendors will use the Intel announcement next week of a 550-MHz version of the Pentium III to add new desktops and workstations to their product lines.

But IT buyers looking to refresh their desktops may want to wait until the next Intel announcement later this year.

Representing not much more than what system OEMs call a speed bump, 550-MHz desktop systems will be priced at US$150 to US$200 more than current systems using the 500-MHz version of the Pentium III. The new systems will leave the current system architecture, including motherboards, untouched. Boxes ship this month.

The big change in Pentium III systems will be at year's end, when Intel ships a 600-MHz-plus version with its new 820 chip set. The chip set will add many features to systems, including instant-on, Ultra ATA, support for Rambus memory, a four-speed Accelerated Graphics Port, a 133-MHz system bus, and 256KB of on-die Level 2 cache.

Rob Enderle, a senior analyst at Giga Information Group, in San Jose, Calif., said he believes IT managers wanting to standardize on current technology should buy Celeron systems using the 810 chip set, which incorporates many of the same features that will be found on Pentium III performance desktops using the 820 chip set later this year.

However, T.R. Webb, technology advisor to the CIO at Houston-based Shell Oil, said improvements in technology are not enough to change his company's buying strategy.

"We are not focused on technology, but on cost of ownership," Webb said. "This will not trigger a buying wave."

Major changes to the system architecture will result in a longer and more costly requalifying process according to a Dell Computer representative commenting on the Pentium III systems due out later this year.

Among the companies announcing products using the 550-MHz processor are Compaq, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, and Toshiba. Details on their announcements are at www.infoworld.com.

Intel Corp., in Santa Clara, Calif., can be reached at www.intel.com.

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