Sun Microsystems last week unveiled the UltraSparc III microprocessor, which it says will reach speeds of 600MHz when it goes into production next year.
The chip will be scalable, which means it can be incorporated into systems with multiple processors, enabling Sun to build machines that are faster than the most powerful supercomputers, officials claimed.
The UltraSparc III is said to be more powerful than Intel's fastest Pentium II chip, which runs at 300MHz. But the release of the next-generation 64-bit chip, code-named "Merced" and built by Hewlett-Packard and Intel, is just days away.
Intel has not officially disclosed details about Merced, but company sources indicate it has a faster processing speed than Sun's.
The greatest benefit will be felt in Sun's server line, where machines can take advantage of the UltraSparc's multiprocessing ability, though improvements will also be felt in Sun's desktops.
The performance of Sun's chip is due in part to its memory bandwidth, which is the highest in the industry at 2.4Gb. It also carries 8Mb of second level cache.
But to get your hands on the product you'll have to be patient. Sun expects to deliver the first machines with the new chip by, wait for it, the end of next year or in early 1999.