Late today or tomorrow, the chip giant will discuss the hardware reference profile it hopes will be adopted by mainstream PC makers. Paul Otellini, Intel executive vice president for sales and marketing, recently described the 'lean client' design as a "simplified version of the Net PC spec [with] the same management architecture''.
The spec will not include a hard drive and, Otellini said, could lead to PCs that sell for as little as $500 - about 350UKP. Intriguingly, Intel plans to copy Cyrix's MediaGX concept by using a highly integrated chipset that enables the CPU to handle graphics and other functions that usually require add-in cards. This could potentially include modem, audio, motion video and other functions.
Intel will back up its talk in mid-1998 by releasing a cheaper Pentium II that dispenses with cache RAM
Way back last November, the then Cyrix CEO Jerry Rogers had predicted Intel would enter the market for highly integrated chipsets.
In an exclusive interview with ZDNN, Rogers said: "Six months ago Intel weren't interested [in developing a Net PC-optimised processor] and they were very vocal about it. A couple of weeks ago they started changing their minds and began staffing it up. We've been working on it for three years. Maybe Intel can do enough to be only 18 months behind... At some point there's going to be a debate: how many transistors can you add to keep the speed up at a viable cost. It's not clear you can have both. To get the MHz up do you stop at 14 stages or do you add another pipeline? Do you want to go to gigahertz on a chip that does everything or do you want a core x86 CPU with variants for different applications?"