Intel's MMX will arrive in UK PCs in early October, putting multimedia at the heart of CPU processing. Two new Pentium chips running at 166MHz and 200MHz will begin shipping to UK OEMs at the end of September. They will be the first to put algorithms that accelerate video, fast graphics rendering, and sound inside processors, with the technology expected to be available on all new Intel [desktop] CPUs from now.
Often known by the P55C code-name, the MMX chips will go straight into consumer-targeted systems in the fourth quarter. Intel is keen to push MMX as a consumer technology and sources say it will ask vendors to bundle a range of 3D games optimised for the chip architecture.
Despite the focus on a consumer audience, the arrival of MMX makes for a crowded array of chips with wide appeal from the giant. With Pentium Pro sales accelerating sharply and a host of non-MMX Pentium chips available from 100MHz to 200MHz clock speeds, positioning could be tricky.
However, PC vendors said it will be difficult for Intel to move buyers up the performance scale very quickly. "My feeling is that by the end of the year the entry-level will still be 100MHz Pentium," said one European OEM. "Intel would like it to be 133MHz but Compaq has just released a 100MHz Deskpro system and Intel has said it won't cut prices again this year."
The source added that he doesn't expect Intel to be too aggressive on MMX to begin with. "I expect Intel to put the MMX on limited allocation this year in preparation for volume in 1997. If they want to sell a lot in December it'll be like pushing water up the hill unless they really mass-market it."
Early in the new year, Intel is expected to release a 150MHz Pentium with MMX capabilities, followed in the April-June time frame by the MMX Pentium Pro, code-named Klamath.