Intel has given the Pentium a last-minute reprieve and will not axe the chip when the current 200MHz version becomes obsolete - in six months' time, according to industry sources.
Instead of ditching the Pentium, Intel will extend the chip's life by bringing out a 233MHz version, which should be available at about the same time as the Klamath in the second quarter of 1997.
Speculation about the future of the Pentium as the chip of choice for desktop systems has been rife since the announcement of MMX technology.
While MMX is still touting for support among software houses, the Pentium remains safe. But with Klamath poised for release sometime during the second quarter of the year, anything without MMX looks positively out of date.
In order to maintain interest in the rapidly ageing Pentium, Intel introduced sizeable price cuts of up to 35% a fortnight ago, while maintaining the relatively high price of the Pentium Pro offering.
But Brendon Sherry, European general manager at Cyrix, believes the 233MHz Pentium will have very little to offer potential customers.
"Unless Intel offers the 233 with a faster bus (than the current 66MHz), the chip will have very little speed advantage over the 200. It's a case of diminishing returns," he said.
Richard Baker, regional marketing manager at rival AMD, commented: "The strategic reason for the 233 is to provide a stop gap (in the portables market) until the 233 Deschutes is available, next year."
Sherry cast doubt on the success of the 200MHz Pentium, which he described as "a flop". "There is a lot of confusion out there, because of the MMX, and I know the 200 is not a high-volume part," he added.
Intel was not available for comment.
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