Intel is taking the lid off 'Katmai', the codename it has for the next big thing on its 32-bit processor roadmap.
The chip, scheduled for release in the first half of 1999, will carry 70 new instructions that Intel is calling Katmai New Instructions (KNI). These include the Single Instruction Multiple Data (SIMD) architecture for floating point data to enhance 3D performance. Indeed, Intel says many of the new instructions are there to enhance visual computing aspects such as 3D, imaging and motion video both for consumer and business PCs.
Complementary plans include the projected availability of the 4x Accelerated Graphics Port (AGP) graphics architecture. Intel says it expects to have KNI in all its new processors by the millennium.
A key feature of Katmai is that Intel will focus on having optimised applications from the off, unlike the case with MMX where only a smattering of, mostly obscure, applications were ready at the chip's launch.
Intel says it has been working with software developers since 1996 and is promising to pull out all the stops to help, including providing dedicated development personnel, more tools and libraries, and plenty of development time.
Intel says "hundreds" of software vendors are already working on Katmai applications but are operating under non-disclosure agreements. Those vendors will get Katmai-based development systems to test their work in progress in mid-1998, Intel says.
Unsurprisingly, Microsoft will be a lodestone in the Katmai strategy.
In a prepared statement, Microsoft VP Paul Maritz said: "Microsoft is excited about working with Intel on supporting KNI and is committed to taking full advantage of the technology in future Windows and Windows NT platforms."
Following its recent trend, Katmai is named after a river in Oregon.
Separately, Intel announced earlier this week that the US Federal Trade Commission will not seek a preliminary injunction on Intel's acquisition of Chips and Technologies, a maker of graphics processors for mobile PCs.