Intel has reshuffled its processor roadmap, bringing forward the release of its Katmai and Tanner chips.
Katmai will run at 450MHz and 500MHz and include 70 new instructions and the Single Instruction Multiple Data architecture for floating point data types. Intel claims Katmai will give improved multimedia performance, including 3D graphics and full-motion video. Tanner will run at 500MHz with boosted graphics performance aimed at the work station market.
Both chips were due to be released in the second quarter next year, but will now arrive in the first quarter of 1999.
An Intel spokesman said the company's 0.25 micron manufacturing process had been going well, allowing it to bring release dates forward, but one analyst was sceptical of this explanation.
Ashim Pal, analyst with the Meta Group, said the announcement was timed to avoid "jitters" around the delay of the Merced chip. "(Intel is) just moving stuff around to make it seem like it's managing the problem, but this announcement will not have a big impact," he commented. "A lot of the new chips, including Katmai, Tanner and Merced, depend on an operating system to compete with the likes of Sun's Sparc processor. That OS will be NT 5, which will not be here until next year, so it does not really matter."
Intel has brought forward the release of Katmai and Tanner to allow users to upgrade to their 32-bit systems quickly instead of waiting for the delayed Merced chip, according to Kelly Henry, senior analyst with IDC.
She said Intel also needs to see off the threat from AMD in the race for 3D chips.
Henry predicted prices across the Intel range would fall sharply soon after the introduction of the new chips. "100MHz PII will see some pretty low prices by the end of the year," she said.
In addition, Intel said the 400MHz PII Xeon processor with 512k cache would ship at the end of this month priced at $1,100 (#675), while a version with 1Mb cache will be available at the same time for $2,800 (#1,718).
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