Intel is set this week to announce the next performance bump for both its Pentium III and Celeron processors, reaching speeds of 600MHz and 500MHz respectively. Major vendors such as Compaq, Dell and IBM will simultaneously announce models that incorporate the new chips.
Compaq will release a 600MHz DeskPro EN model with hard drives with as much as 10GB, up to a 32-speed CD-ROM drive, a 2x Accelerated Graphics Port, and the 810 chip set, according to a source familiar with the forthcoming products, which will ship at the time of announcement.
The 810 chip set caused some consternation in the industry when it was first released, due to a bug that caused the real-time clock to be inaccurate. And although there is currently an Intel fix for the problem, a source close to Compaq said the new desktops will also include a secondary real-time clock from Compaq to ensure accuracy.
"The clock is the timing device that the computer uses for various operations, so if it isn't working right it can cause problems over time, particularly with [year 2000]. It might not recognise the changeover," the source said.
IBM will also introduce PC 300PL models as well as two new Intellistation Windows NT workstations with the 600MHz chip, according to sources.
The E Pro and M Pro workstations will also include IBM's FireGL1 and Intense 3Dwildcat 4000 graphics cards.
The workstations will be offered in both single- and dual-processor models with either 128MB or 256MB of Synchronous DRAM and hard drives from 9.1GB to 18.2GB.
While high performance may be key to a workstation environment, IT managers are not particularly interested in the next performance boost on desktops.
"No one really cares about megahertz anymore. We are just being drawn into it.
"We don't switch until they stop selling the ones we are currently buying," said an IT manager for a Fortune 50 oil company.
However, Compaq, IBM, and Dell will also introduce 600MHz and 500MHz systems on the consumer side where there is a heightened interest in performance.
"Consumers care about megahertz a lot, maybe big companies not as much," said Roger Kay, a senior analyst at International Data Corp. "Consumers may not know what a chip set is but performance is something they understand."
A Dell representative confirmed that the company was expected to announce this week consumer and commercial desktops incorporating the higher performance Intel processors.