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New Pentium Pro not cheap

Intel unveils what will probably be the last version of the Pentium Pro processor, at an eye-popping price.

Intel (INTC) today announced the availability of what will probably be the last version of the Pentium Pro processor, at an unexpectedly high price.

The new Pentium Pro will sell for $2,675 in 1,000-unit quantities. The chip had been expected to come in below $2,000.

As anticipated, the upgraded chip has 1MB of cache memory, twice that of current versions. Speedy cache memory is vital for multiprocessor servers and workstations because it keeps the processor fed with data. Since processors work much faster than standard DRAM memory can feed them data, high-speed cache memory is used to make sure the processor is not "starving."

The Pentium Pro's clock speed remains at 200 MHz.

Introduced back in October 1995 as a chip for expensive PC workstation and server computers, the new Pentium Pro will chiefly appear in high-end four-processor-capable servers manufactured by Compaq (CPQ), Hewlett-Packard (HWP), and NEC Computer, among others. (See related story.)

In part because of its price, the Pentium Pro should be completely replaced next year by the Pentium II, a much less expensive chip that has the same basic architecture. Although the Pentium II currently can only be used in one- or two-processor servers and comes with only half the amount of cache of the new Pentium Pro, the shortcomings will be eliminated by 1998.

Meanwhile, the Pentium II outdoes the Pentium Pro in that it has Intel's MMX multimedia capabilities, while the Pentium Pro does not. Second, the Pentium II costs about $800 and by next year will be incorporated into PCs priced well below $2,000, a market the Pentium Pro never really entered.

Intel is an investor in CNET: The Computer Network.