Intel is pondering whether to continue its relationship with either Elonex or AST after the two broke an embargo covering its latest Pentium II chip last month (PC Week, 6 May).
Intel's launch of the Pentium II boasted 17 vendors launching machines based around the new microprocessor but, as predicted last week, AST and Elonex were not included.
Steve Poole, Intel's European director of operations, said he didn't feel Intel had acted harshly: "We put these embargoes into place so everyone has the opportunity to release their products on a level playing field.
I just don't think it's fair that one or two companies should break that kind of agreement." Asked if Intel would work with either of the two again, he replied: "I'm really not sure. We have come to no decisions yet."
Demetre Cheras, Elonex's technical and marketing director, said the whole incident was a mistake but claimed his company was able to source Pentium IIs, but not necessarily from Intel. "We have stock (of Pentium II) and can get chips from alternative sources. It's business as usual."
AST would not discuss the issue, but a source close to the company told PC Week that the threat from Intel was worrying. However, when PC Week contacted AST, despite the Intel ban, we were assured Pentium II machines could be delivered to us within 12 days of an order.
PENTIUM: A PROCESSOR UNDER SUSPICION
The Pentium II uses the Dual Independent Bus Architecture (DIBA) to achieve greater processor-to-memory bus bandwidth and is, according to Intel, able to offer up to three times the bandwidth of the single-bus "socket 7" architecture. The increased bandwidth therefore offers faster overall system performance, writes Richard Barry.
AMD's K6 uses the "socket 7" design while the PII uses the new faster DIBA. Intel reckons this is the reason why K6 will fail in the long term.
However, PC Week has tested the 233MHz version of the K6 against the PII 233MHz and found the difference in performance negligible, with the K6 slightly ahead in integer performance which is most commonly used in business applications. The PII, as expected, outperformed the K6 in floating point performance (by less than 3%) which is used mainly by 3D or CAD applications as well as games.
Using a 3D enhanced version of the game POD (Power VR) with a dedicated Video Logic Apocalypse 3DX acceleration card, there was no discernible difference between the two.
- Leader, page 20.
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