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400-MHz Pentium IIs shipping

Chip resellers are shipping 350-MHz and 400-MHz versions of Intel's Pentium II before the scheduled announcement date.

Chip resellers are already shipping the newest and fastest versions of the Pentium II chip even before the scheduled April 15 announcement of speed upgrades to Intel's (INTC) top-line microprocessor.

Now in stock, the 350-MHz and 400-MHz Pentium II chips will sell for $610 and

Upcoming Intel processors
Pentium II Intro date Price
350 MHz April 15 $610
400 MHz April 15 $800
266-MHz Celeron April 15 $152
450 MHz July 26 $760
$800, respectively, according to sources at one chip reseller.

A 450-MHz version of the processor is expected to debut in July, according to chip reseller sources and other industry sources, though the chip's unveiling may be pushed up, the same sources said.

The 450-MHz chip will be priced at about $750. When the 450-MHz version is introduced, the 400-MHz processor is expected to dip to about $700.

But the new high-end chips require a PC circuit board that's not yet available, as well as newer, high-speed memory. The high-speed memory is necessary because some of the faster Intel Pentium IIs will "talk" to the PC at a higher speed of 100 MHz. This compares to the slower "bus" used in Intel PCs today that runs at 66 MHz.

Independent manufacturers are expected to begin shipping circuit boards with the new 440BX chipset about a week before the official release, according to sources, while Intel's own motherboards will debut in conjunction with the new chips. A motherboard houses the main electronics in a computer, while a chipset is a group of chips that serve as companions to the main processor.

Also on April 15, Intel will also introduce the Celeron Pentium II for sub-$1,000 PCs at price points as low as $104, according to industry sources, and other existing chips will get price cuts.

In that time frame, the 300-MHz version of the Pentium II is expected to fall from $530 to $368, according to industry sources.

An Intel spokesman said he was not aware of early shipments of the 350- and 400-MHz Pentium II processors to chip resellers, though Intel has been shipping the chips already to major PC manufacturers.

Intel is an investor in CNET: The Computer Network.