AST brings Pentium Pro to desktops

AST Research will deliver in early June a Pentium Pro-based corporate desktop PC that uses Intel's new three-chip Natoma PCI chip set.

The 200-MHz PC, code-named Samantha, will be one of the first product releases resulting from Intel's attempt to position the Pentium Pro as the corporate desktop chip of the future.

Natoma, formerly known as Mars and now referred to as the 82440FX, is a three-chip set that was created by stripping away features from Intel's seven-device Orion chip set.

The less cumbersome Natoma enables Intel to lower prices on the Pentium Pro -- which until recently has been used primarily in servers and workstations.

Intel has been working with Microsoft to reposition Windows NT and the Pentium Pro as the 32-bit operating system and desktop chip set for the next generation, analysts say.

"The issue preventing NT and the Pentium Pro from moving into the corporate workspace has been price, but that will be resolved," says Mike Feibus, a principal at Mercury Research, a consultancy in Scottsdale, Arizona. "The companies should enable OEMs to deliver an NT/Pentium Pro corporate desktop PC for about US$2500 by the end of the year."

By stripping away some of Orion's functionality, Intel is able to offer Natoma at a reasonable cost to desktop users, analysts say.

AST will offer other Pentium Pro speeds on the Samantha platform, company officials say. Initial pricing has not been announced.

AST Research can be reached at

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