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Enhanced Pentium II on the way

Intel is expected to announce on Monday an enhanced version of the Pentium II processor that makes it more suitable for servers and workstations.

Intel (INTC) is expected to announce on Monday that it will come out with Pentium II technology that will make the chip more suitable for use in servers and high-end workstations.

The Pentium II and its accompanying on-board memory chips currently do not support a kind of high-quality memory known as Error Correcting Code (ECC). The new Pentium II technology will include this capability for the Pentium II's on-board, high-speed memory, known as cache.

With this technology, errors that occur during transmission or storage of data can be detected and corrected. Standard memory chips do not have this capability.

Many large corporate customers demand that servers and certain desktop computers come with ECC memory to ensure data integrity. For example, a workstation used at a financial trading firm handling million- or billion-dollar transactions needs to ensure that a program comes up with the correct forecast, according to analysts. A memory glitch could potentially throw a forecast like this off.

Intel has said in the past that a drawback to its Pentium II chip was the lack of ECC support. For this reason, some computer vendors have foregone the introduction of servers with the Pentium II.

The Pentium Pro processor does support ECC memory and is currently the chip of choice for servers.

Initially, Intel is expected to place a premium price on the new chips while continuing to sell non-ECC Pentium II processors, sources said.

Intel is expected to offer the new processors in 233-, 266-, and 300-MHz versions, according to sources.