UK firm shipping 'real' PIII-based systems

Digital Networks UK has started shipping Pentium III-based systems under the noses of Intel and its top OEMs who are under embargo to not sell the chips until after the February 26 launch date.

A sales rep for Digital Networks UK said that his company has obtained genuine Intel PIII chips "from a supplier who imports them from the US."

The company is now selling 500MHz and 450MHz PIII-based systems under its Deskstar, Playstar, Workstar SI and Workstar DDS system range, although its Web site currently shows just PII-based systems.

The rep added that the markings on the processors proved that they were genuine PIIIs. "There is a model number and CPU ID number on all Intel processors," he said. "The PIIIs that we are using have a model number of 7 and a CPU ID of 3. The PII has a model number of 5 and a CPU ID of 2."

Intel spokesman Andrew Thomas dismissed the claims as nothing more than a sales stunt. "I guess they are taking pre-orders with the intention of shipping after the 26th," he said. "We've had a bit of this in the US."

The rep at Digital Networks denied this was the case, saying that the company is shipping now, not taking pre-orders. "I think it must be a bit embarrassing for Intel as its major OEMs like IBM, Compaq, Dell and Gateway are not going to ship until the end of this month," said the rep.

The processors have been tested with Linux and NT but there is still some confusion over the "additional flags" that the operating systems have picked-up, said the rep. "It's probably something to do with the new Katmai instructions," he said.

There is however an issue with the chips. "The BIOS says it's a PII still although supports the PIII fully," added the rep. "We are using a January issue of a BIOS and this will no doubt be rectified after the February 26 launch date."