When it comes to speed, Intel is still the king of the processor hill.
The chip giant showed off a prototype PC system powered by a Pentium processor running at 800MHz, several hundred megahertz faster than anything its main rivals had up and running here at the CeBIT trade show.
"This is the fastest system we have ever shown in Europe," said Pat Gelsinger, vice president and general manager of Intel's desktop products group.
But the chip is still no speed demon by Intel standards. In February, Intel broke the 1GHz barrier when it demonstrated its fastest chip ever at its developer conference in California.
But such speedy chips are not scheduled to become commercially available until next year. Yesterday's demonstration was aimed primarily at showing where Intel is heading.
Intel earlier this month started shipping its fastest processor to date, the 500MHz Pentium III Xeon, which is scheduled to be followed by a 550MHz version next month, Gelsinger said.
Rival processor maker Advanced Micro Devices, meanwhile, behind closed doors here demonstrated prototype systems powered by its forthcoming K7 chip, which officials said is scheduled for release in the second quarter at speeds of 500MHz and higher.
National Semiconductor's Cyrix subsidiary also showed off a system powered by a 433MHz version of its M II chip scheduled for release in the second quarter.
The M II will come in a 450MHz iteration by the fourth quarter, said Steve Tobak, vice president of corporate marketing and communications at National Semiconductor.
In this year's second half, Cyrix will also introduce a new processor core code-named Cayenne, running at 433MHz and higher. The Cayenne core will be used for upgrading the M II family, in a version code-named Gobi, as well as in a more integrated iteration featuring an on-chip 3D graphics accelerator, said Tobak.
National Semiconductor also remains on track to by mid-year introduce the first version of the long-awaited MediaPC, a so-called system-on-a-chip that will integrate all the functionality necessary for building a system on one piece of silicon, Tobak said.