Intel delays intro of MMX Pentium chip till early 1997

Intel will introduce its new multimedia processor in the beginning of 1997 instead of the beginning of the fourth quarter of this year as planned, executives say.

Intel will introduce its new multimedia processor in the beginning of 1997 instead of the beginning of the fourth quarter of this year as planned, executives say. The delivery delay of the P55C, which will include Intel's MMX (multimedia extensions) instructions that will enable it to process video and audio faster than current chips, will have no effect on the timeline for Intel's other chips, says Frank Spindler, Intel's Pentium processor manager.

"The volumes were going to be limited in the fourth quarter all along so it did not represent a significant portion of either our processor shipments or system shipments in the quarter," he says. Intel could meet initial demand for the 166MHz versions of the P55C, but not the 200MHz versions, according to Spindler. "We wanted to make sure that when we introduced the product it was in the right mix of what the customers (OEMs) are asking for," he says.

He is playing down the impact of the announcement on the Christmas holiday buying season and says that as a result of Intel price cuts earlier this month, consumers will be able to buy computers with faster speed for about what they paid a year ago. "We think we'll see 166MHz and 200MHz systems selling in the US$2000 to US$2200 price range," which is what 100MHz systems were selling for last Christmas, he says.

However, the P55C delay will result in a lack of variety on the store shelves during the busiest buying season, according to Dean McCarron, an analyst at Mercury Research, a semiconductor industry research firm in Scottsdale, Arizona. "Basically, delaying the introduction of the P55C makes this year's (US) winter buying season focused almost exclusively on the Pentium that's now on the market," he says.

The delay means the P55C will arrive close to the time the MMX version of the Pentium Pro, code-named Klamath, does. "The product lines are going to be difficult to manage for PC vendors starting early next year," McCarron says. "Usually vendors have a business line and a consumer line and they're centered on a given processor," he says. "Early next year they'll be saddled with the decision of going to multiple processors within a product line or staying with one processor."

Intel is at http://www.intel.com.

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