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Katmai chip to get 200-MHz bus

Although the Intel 100-MHz system bus is yet to be released, it will likely have a short life, according to industry pundit Michael Slater.

ORLANDO, Florida--Although the 100-MHz system bus is yet to be released, it will likely have a short life, industry pundit Michael Slater said at Microsoft's WinHec Conference.

Slater, a keynote speaker at the conference and the founder of MicroDesign Resources, said that by 1999 Intel will likely move to a 200-MHz system bus for its high-end chips with Katmai, the next generation of Intel processors. Katmai chips are expected to run at speeds as high as 750 MHz.

The system bus controls the flow of data to and from the microprocessor and has lately become a bottleneck for improving microprocessor speeds.

As an initial step toward solving the problem, Intel is releasing upcoming Deschutes Pentium II processors with 100-MHz buses. Currently Intel chips come with 66-MHz buses. While the 100-MHz buses will improve speeds, they won't be enough Slater said, especially as new, high-speed memory is coming out from Rambus.

"If they are going to get the full benefit of the RDRAM [Rambus dynamic random access memory], the 100-MHz bus is not going to last long. We are going to have to see an increase in bus speed."

Intel competitors, including AMD, Cyrix, and IDT, are also coming out with 100-MHz buses for its Pentium-compatible chips later this year. These vendors will likely enjoy a greater performance boost from the new bus than Intel will on its Pentium II chips.