HP desktop trio embraces PIII

IT managers can expect a cavalcade of new Pentium III-based desktop PCs to be announced this week when Intel unveils its latest processor at 450MHz and 500MHz clock speeds.

Although many PC makers view the Pentium III as merely a chance to take advantage of the latest speed boost, some, such as Hewlett-Packard, will use the CPU to launch entirely new models.

HP will announce this week, at Intel's Pentium III Preview Day in the US, its new Vectra VEi 8, Vectra VLi 8 and Brio BAX desktop lines, each of which is optimised for the new chip, according to officials. "We're using this opportunity to provide more performance features at a lower price," said Achim Kuttler, a product marketing manager in HP's Commercial Desktop Computing Division, in Grenoble, France.

The Vectra VEi 8 comprises desktop models that feature four bays and four slots; a mini tower with six bays and six slots; and a new-form-factor, low-profile system that measures only 9 centimeters thick. The machines will share a common motherboard and other common components that aim to ease management. HP's Vectra VLi 8 line includes a model with an all-new desktop form factor with four bays and four slots. The Brio BAX line includes a model with a new space-saving micro tower form factor.

Pricing for the VEi 8 will start at $2,200 (£1,340) for a machine with a 400MHz Pentium II chip, a 6.4GB hard drive and 8MB of video RAM, according to officials at HP's headquarters. Pricing for models equipped with the Pentium III has not been set.

Intel officials said they expect new PCs equipped with the Pentium III to start as low as $1,500 (£915) and range in price up to more than $2,000 (£1220). The company is expected to launch its 500MHz Pentium III Xeon processor, code-named Tanner, for multiprocessor servers next month.

Other PC makers planning to announce Pentium III systems this week include the following: IBM will offer the chip in its PC 300GL and PC 300PL product lines, as well as in its IntelliStation workstations. In addition, the company plans to launch Netfinity servers based on the Pentium III, including an eight-way model based on Intel's Profusion chip set when it becomes available in the second quarter, company officials said. Dell will offer new OptiPlex and Dimension desktops models and PowerEdge servers based on the chip. Compaq and Gateway will also launch Pentium III-based PCs, servers and workstations, according to officials at both companies.

NEC Computer Systems Division will offer Pentium III chips in its PowerMate desktop and Express5800 server lines.