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Intel follows AMD with 1-GHz chip

Hoping that late is truly better than never, Intel releases a Pentium III chip that runs at 1 GHz two days after rival AMD unveiled its own processor.

Hoping that late is truly better than never, chip giant Intel today released a Pentium III chip that runs at 1 GHz, two days after rival AMD unveiled its own processor.

As expected, Intel unveiled its new chip a month after it first introduced the technology. Dell, Hewlett-Packard and other major PC makers today also announced that they plan to ship new high-end computers with the fast chip installed.

The release of Intel?s 1-GHz, or "one-gig" chip comes on the heels of AMD's chip release last week. The ongoing competition between the two chipmakers has intensified as each raced to introduce the milestone processor first.

Two weeks ago, chips running at this speed weren't expected until the middle of the year. Intel, however, recently moved up the release of its 1-GHz Pentium III. AMD responded by moving up its own announcement, beating Intel to the punch.

The one-gig milestone may be more symbolic than functional. The new processors are pegged for the high-end of the computing spectrum, thus PCs that run on 1-GHz processors are expected to be the most expensive on the market.

In addition, despite claims from both companies that there are good supplies of these chips, doubts persist. These chips were originally due in late June. The release was accelerated only recently, so many analysts state that volumes are likely relatively low. As one indication, both Intel and AMD skipped over 900-MHz chips to get to 1-GHz, quite an unusual occurence.

Because of the high price, analysts expect few takers for the one-gig machines initially. For example, Dell's Dimension home PC with the Pentium III 1-GHz chip, 256MB of memory, a 30GB hard drive, DVD drive and CD-RW drive is priced at $5,999.

Intel has struggled over the last year to keep up with demand for its fastest Pentium III processors, with resulting chip shortages hitting PC makers the hardest. Dell cited supply issues when it reported lackluster earnings in the most recent quarter. On the same note, AMD has suffered through its own high-end chip shortages, but they have not been as severe.

Unlike some of Intel's previous high-end chips, the 1-GHz Pentium III is expected to be in full supply, the company says.

"Being up front with customers on availability…creates a winning situation for everyone," said Ron Van Dell, general manager of Dell's home computer group, in a statement.