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Intel opens site to give Pentium advice

The chipmaking giant launches a new site to help customers get the most bang out of their Pentium bucks.

    Intel today launched a new site to help customers get the most bang out of their Pentium bucks.

    Initially, WebOutfitter will offer software tools and tutorials on what can be accomplished with PCs based around Intel's Pentium III processor and will eventually include "next generation" content, technologies, and services, the company said.

    The site is part of an overall push by Intel to give consumers strong reasons to upgrade to its more expensive chips--and as a way to ensure that they won't be disappointed if they do.

    Consumers often don't wring the full potential out of their PCs because many performance tricks aren't known or because they can't find or buy applications that take advantage of new processor technology. When Intel released the first Pentium MMX chips, for instance, only a few applications existed that could take advantage of the power MMX brought to standard Pentiums.

    "When we got to releasing MMX, we had ten applications that you just couldn't get. [For the Pentium III], we cranked it up in order of magnitude," said Pat Gelsinger, corporate vice president of the Desktop Products Group at the launch of the Pentium III.

    Intel's latest processor aims to boost the quality of video, audio, and multimedia on PCs through its new "SIMD" instructions and will first showcase content by Excite, CNN, and CBS Sportsline that is only accessible from Pentium III systems.

    For instance, in the "Tech Treks" section of WebOutfitter, Excite is launching a concept site that offers 3D Web search and navigation. "The Pentium III processor lets us shift more of the work of generating the interface to the user's desktop computer," said Adam Hertz, vice president of development at Excite in a statement.

    Excite Extreme is also expected to be available via Excite.com to a wider audience this quarter.

    Site members can download plug-ins tuned for the Pentium III processor or can choose to receive the same plug-ins via mail on a CD-ROM. Both the site and CD have all the software required to take advantage of features on the various sites.

    The "Site Seeing" portion of the site is sort of a portal for the Pentium III, featuring Web sites that use the chip's technologies organized into various categories such as: Entertainment & Leisure, Shopping, Learning and Technology.

    The site will not have information on the serial number feature of the Pentium III chip because that feature is not used, a company spokesperson said. The inclusion of the ID number in the chips has generated significant amounts of controversy about potential invasion of privacy, but some experts are casting doubt the impact of the technology. Information is available on the serial number issue other parts of Intel's site, the spokesperson noted.

    Efforts to stimulate interest in the Pentium III processors include a $300 million ad campaign at a time when a large percentage of new computer purchases are coming in the sub-$1,000 segment.

    In the month of February, sub-$1,000 PCs continued to dominate at PC retailers, accounting for well over half of all PCs sold, according to PC Data. The majority of PCs in the consumer retail market shipped with AMD processors in the same period. The Pentium III was not officially introduced until February 26, however.

    The site isn't the first Intel has launched to target users of its newest processors. In 1996, the company launched the Intel Owners Club site for users of the Pentium MMX as well as a "ConnectedPC" site. The Owners Club site has 300,000 registered users and proffers information for those using Pentium, Celeron, and Pentium II chips, according to a spokesperson.

    Intel also took over the Mediadome site that was initially developed by CNET, the publisher of CNET News.com, as a means to promote the Pentium II processor.