Intel to christen Katmai today

Intel is expected to unveil today the official name for its next-generation Pentium chip, presently codenamed Katmai - and the leading contender for the new moniker is ... Pentium III. The new processor generation builds on the current Pentium II core, but it adds a set of 70 new multimedia-enhancing instructions known as the Katmai New Instructions on top of the existing MMX instruction set.

Intel is expected to unveil today the official name for its next-generation Pentium chip, presently code named Katmai.

The chip giant is widely expected to continue to leverage its well-known Pentium brand, and choose a moniker such as Pentium III for the new chip series, according to industry sources.

An Intel spokesman at the company's Santa Clara, California headquarters on Friday declined to either deny or confirm the Pentium III name.

The new processor generation builds on the current Pentium II core, but it adds a set of 70 new multimedia-enhancing instructions known as the Katmai New Instructions on top of the existing MMX instruction set.

Intel is expected to introduce the first two iterations of the long-awaited processor series, running at 450MHz and 500MHz, by early March, industry sources say. The fastest Pentium II processor today runs at 450MHz.

The first Katmai chips will be priced very aggressively, with the 450MHz version expected to cost only about US$50 more than a same-speed Pentium II processor, sources close to Intel said.

Around the same time, in late February or early March, rival processor vendor Advanced Micro Devices is also expected to introduce a new 450MHz processor called K6-3.

The K6-3, a follow up to the company's K6-2 series, will have the addition of 256K bytes of performance-enhancing Level 2 cache memory integrated into the same piece of silicon as the processor core, AMD officials said earlier.

AMD's K6-3 chips, however, will not include the new Katmai instructions. Instead, AMD will continue to integrate its own multimedia-enhancing instruction set, called 3DNow, which it introduced in the K6-2 series.

In this year's second quarter, AMD is also expected to take the wraps of its next-generation processor, the K7, which will run at clock-speeds of 500MHz and higher.

Intel, in Santa Clara, California can be reached at +1-408-987-8080, or at http://www.intel.com/. AMD, in Sunnyvale, California, is at +1-408-732-2400 or at http://www.amd.com/.

(Elinor Mills, in San Francisco, contributed to this story.)

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