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Pentium II release date set

Intel says it will introduce its latest generation of processors on May 7.

Intel (INTC) will introduce its latest generation of processors, the Pentium II, on May 7, the company said today in an official announcement.

The Pentium II is the next generation Pentium Pro processor. It is expected to be introduced in 233-, 266-, and 300-MHz versions, as previously reported by CNET NEWS.COM.

The Pentium II is distinguished from the Pentium Pro by the addition of MMX technology, which increases performance for multimedia functions such as graphics, and video and audio playback. The Pentium II is also constructed differently--it will come on a small module, or what Intel calls a "cartridge," which holds the chip and the cache memory. Cache is very high-speed memory that boosts performance of the chip.

Although Intel has made no official announcements about pricing yet, the 233-MHz Pentium II processor is expected to be priced slightly below $600 with 512K of "L2" cache memory on the module. Pricing for a 266-MHz version is expected to be just over $700. Pricing for the 300-MHz version is expected to be between $1,500 and $2,000--and likely closer to $2,000, according to sources.

Sytems with Pentium II processors are expected to be priced initially above $2,500, with most over $3,000.

Intel is expected to standardize Pentium II processors with 512K of cache, as opposed to the 256K version, according to sources. Usually, the larger the cache memory, the better the performance.

(Intel is an investor in CNET: The Computer Network.)