Intel has been forced to compromise on its Slot 1 design and will introduce a Socket 8 version of the Pentium II in the first quarter of next year. This will be compatible with current Pentiums, unlike the Slot 1 cartridge technology that was to have been the only choice.
This has prompted speculation that the company has met with limited success with its cartridge technology and regards processors from AMD and Cyrix - which are backwards compatible - as serious competition.
The company will offer a Socket 8 Pentium II as an Overdrive for existing owners of Pentium Pro machines and a source close to the company suggested that the chips will come in speeds of 233MHz, 266MHz and above. The codename for the product is believed to be Williamette.
An Intel representative said: ?There are plans based on that socket and we do plan to continue to support it.? He was unwilling to give any more information on availability or pricing.
But Richard Baker, northern European marketing director at AMD, welcomed Intel?s decision to use Socket 8. ?Despite what Intel says, there?s little demand for either Slot 1 or Slot 2,? he said. ?This just shows that the socket system is better than the slot system.?
He claimed that Intel?s large customers, the PC vendors, were unhappy with the performance of the Pentium II slot system because of design and heat problems. That had persuaded companies like Acer, IBM and Digital to use AMD processors.
But Joe D?Elia, senior semiconductor analyst at Dataquest UK, said that the product will be of little significance. ?They?re giving existing customers an upgrade path and this is a marketing sop. Someone should ask Intel how many Overdrives they?ve sold. It?s miniscule. The reality is all the Overdrive products never make money.?
He said that he sympathised with the plight of users. ?I?m glad I?m not an IT professional who has to make decisions.? He said they had to make decisions about six or nine months into the future and as product plans changed so fast, it was hard to do so.
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