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Fast Pentium IIs fall to desktops

Intel's 300-MHz Pentium II chip, now found only in workstations and servers, will make its way to PCs by late this quarter.

Intel's (INTC) fastest Pentium II microprocessor, currently found only in the premier NT workstation and server computers, will make its way into PCs by late this quarter or early the next.

The migration of the 300-MHz Pentium II chip to desktops comes as a result of price cuts earlier in the month that approximately halved the price of the chip, dropping it from $1,900 to $850, and even lower prices for large PC vendors. "They had the price at an artificially high level to keep demand down," said Kevin Hause, an analyst at International Data Corporation.

The 300-MHz Pentium II was previously relegated mostly to high-end workstations, which are computers used in scientific, engineering, and multimedia applications.

An Intel spokesperson said that the 300-MHz Pentium II would begin to appear in standard desktop PCs this quarter and that the PCs would cost around $3,000. Compaq (CPQ) has already said it will incorporate the chip into its Deskpro 6000 by September or October.

Concurrently, vendors will start to roll out systems incorporating a next-generation 3D graphics technology called the Accelerated Graphics Port (AGP), according to Roger Kay, senior industry analyst at IDC. AGP allows a computer's graphics subsystem to run faster by connecting to the Pentium II's peripheral chips--referred to as a chipset--directly, thereby avoiding slower data paths, such as the PCI bus, that would degrade performance.

"It will have less impact on high-end workstations and more perhaps on high-end consumer stations," said James Staten, an analyst at Dataquest.

Intel's new 440LX chipset, which will power AGP, will come out next month, said sources, with AGP computers appearing in September and October. Upgrades or patches to Windows 95 that enhance AGP are likely as well, many said.

Intel is an investor in CNET: The Computer Network.