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Intel takes record with 1GHz chip

Intel captures the speed record for desktop processors at its developer's forum by showing off a chip that was cranked up to more than 1000 MHz.

PALM SPRINGS, California--Intel captured the speed record for desktop processors at its developer's forum by showing off a chip that ran at more than 1000 MHz.

Intel showed off a Pentium III desktop prototype that ran at 1002 MHz, a new land speed record for processors, according to Albert Yu, senior vice president of microprocessor products at Intel. The chip was running a computer running a multimedia application featuring underwater seascapes.

This was the first time the gigahertz (one billion cycles per second) frequency has been achieved on a standard microprocessor, Intel said.

IBM has run processors as fast as 1100 MHz, using an experimental 64-bit PowerPC chip.

The demonstration, part of Yu's keynote at the three-day affair, was mostly performed for entertainment's sake. But it also served as a showcase for Intel to tout the Pentium III's capabilities. The Pentium III shares a similar architecture to the Pentium II, which currently runs at 450 MHz. The Pentium III will come out later this week at 450 MHz and 500 MHz. The demo, if anything, showed that the chip design can handle much higher speeds.

Yu had the chip running at 900 MHz and then asked his assistant to gun it. "I thought you were going to show me something exciting," he said. Oddly enough, Intel essentially was overclocking its chips, or running them past the commercially recommended speeds. This is a practice that the company discourages in others.

Pentium IIIs running at these high speeds won't debut for some time. The first desktop chip to hit 1000 MHz from Intel may be Foster, the code name for the successor to Pentium III. Foster is slated for release in late 2000, said Yu. Intel's first commercial chip running at 1000 MHz will likely be Merced, its 64-bit server chip coming out in the middle of next year. McKinley, Merced's successor, will start at 1000 MHz but it comes out in 2001.