Intel to unveil Pentium III in February

Intel has picked February 17 as the date to unveil its forthcoming processor, the Pentium III, which was formerly codenamed Katmai.

Intel is preparing to gather hundreds of industry partners in San Jose, California, and pull out all the stops at an event where the chip giant will show off the multimedia prowess of its Pentium III processor.

"This will probably be the largest thing we've ever put on, the largest thing we'll do all year," said Intel spokeswoman Christine Chartier-Morris. "I think it's going to be an amazing show."

Intel has picked the February date to preview products optimised to take advantage of new instructions in its Pentium III processor which are designed to enhance 3-D graphics, audio, video, speech recognition and other functions.

Besides software applications, the event will feature a preview of new Internet content, personal computers, graphics cards, computer games and development tools that have been developed for or made possible by the Pentium III processor, Intel said.

"It's really the fruition of our work for the last couple of years," Chartier-Morris said.

Intel is keeping tight-lipped about which companies will take part in the event, targeted at members of the media and analysts. But sources have said partner companies will include Adobe Systems, IBM and Microsoft, as well as speech recognition software firms Dragon Systems and Lernout & Hauspie Speech Products.

Besides products for consumers, Intel has tried to ensure there will be sufficient business applications available to tweak interest in the enterprise market for its new chips. Such products might include three-dimensional spreadsheet programs and voice-enabled office applications.

Crucial to creating user demand for the Pentium III, the new applications are the result of the biggest software push Intel has ever orchestrated for a new processor generation. As early as October last year, Intel had already shipped around 500 Katmai systems to hundreds of independent software vendors.

The Pentium III will be introduced at the end of February or in very early March, according to sources familiar with Intel's plans. It's initial clock speeds will be 450MHz and 500MHz, the company has said.

Intel won't use a special logo as it did with MMX to denote products that have been optimised for Pentium III, although individual vendors will likely highlight that fact on product packaging, Chartier-Morris said.

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