Intel has started shipping its own gigahertz Pentium III processor, two days after rival Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) launched its 1GHz Athlon chip.
But the announcement is largely a marketing response to AMD's launch. Intel's 1Ghz Pentium III chip will only available in small quantities in North America for now. Volume shipments are not due until the third quarter of this year.
Both gigahertz chips can execute three program instructions at a time and accelerate anything from games to graphics. Intel, however, claims that its offering is the "world's highest-performance microprocessor for the PC".
Paul Otellini, Intel's executive vice president and general manager, said: "We have a microprocessor roadmap that will continue to keep our customers at the forefront of technology in the future."
But Kevin Krewell of analyst the Microprocessor Report said: "I think AMD successfully outflanked Intel in the PR campaign and spent a significant amount of effort to be the first to reach 1GHz. But as for the rest of the year, we'll have to see how it goes."
Intel's 1GHz 133MHz Pentium III will initially be targeted at "PC enthusiasts" who use their machines for applications such as digital photography, video editing, music, voice recognition and 3-D gaming.
The processor will cost $990 (£627) in 1000 unit quantities, making it significantly cheaper than AMD's $1299 1GHz Athlon.
AMD, conversely, said it intends to ship hundreds of thousands of 900MHz, 950MHz and 1000MHz Athlon processors in the second quarter and that a "significant portion" of those chips will run at 1GHz.
Hewlett Packard expects to release new 1GHz Pentium III-based Pavilion 1G PCs next week and Dell has also said it will ship a Special Edition Dell Dimension desktop, although it has not specified a date.
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