The debut occurs about three weeks in advance of Intel's original target date for announcing the 750-MHz PIII, and months ahead of the expected release of the 800-MHz PIII, sources said. Intel declined comment on the expected announcement.
AMD managed a similar feat when it announced its 750MHz Athlon processor on November 29 -- nearly two weeks earlier than expected. That processor is currently the fastest in the market, having snatched the top spot from Intel's PIII-733 announced on October 25.
Intel demonstrated a prototype 800MHz Pentium III system at the CeBit trade show in Germany last March. At the time, the company claimed the CPU was about 60 per cent faster than its Pentium III Xeon, which had just come out.
But don't look for a PIII-800 system under the Christmas tree. Although sources say Intel is already shipping limited quantities of 750MHz and 800MHz CPUs to PC makers, it isn't likely that many of these high-speed PCs will be for sale before January.
These fast systems will define the new high end. For example, Compaq Computer is readying an addition to its Presario line powered by the Athlon-750.