Although Intel this week introduced the 333MHz Pentium II, the real scrapping looks destined to take place when the weather is warmer, as both chip makers prepare a batch of key second and third quarter announcements.
Intel will begin producing motherboards based on its 440BX chipset in May or June, enabling the 333MHz part to run at its optimum thanks primarily to support for a 100MHz bus. Throughout the remainder of the year, Intel expects to accelerate PII clock speeds up to 450MHz.
Also in the works for the silicon Gargantua is its attempt to claw back share in entry-level PCs where it has lost out to Cyrix and AMD just as sub-$1,000 PCs have captured the US imagination. Intel's answer, a cache-less Pentium II codenamed 'Covington' interfaces to a modified version of Slot 1. It will be released in the second half of the year.
That leaves a rare gap in the top end of the market that AMD believes will give it the speed crown throughout the second half of the year.
The Californian neighbour and rival to Intel will ship its K6 3D processor in May or June, probably starting at 300MHz, according to sources.
An even more significant release slated for the July-September quarter will be a version of the chip with a 256Kb cache integrated on the processor dye that it is calling for now "K6 + 3D".
"333MHz Pentium II is just a speed iteration until there's 100MHz bus support," said Rana Mainee, market planning manager at AMD Europe. "We'll have the fastest x86 processor this year and we won't want to relinquish that crown. Intel will be focused on Slot 2 and Covington. They want to cover all the bases."