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Low-end notebooks get MMX

Intel announces a new 133-MHz Pentium processor with multimedia MMX technology for notebooks.

Intel (INTC) today announced a new 133-MHz Pentium processor with MMX technology for notebooks to move the multimedia chip into the low end of the market.

Intel is targeting the high-volume, relatively low-priced niche now occupied by "classic" (non-MMX) 120- and 133-MHz mobile Pentium processors.

The 133-MHz MMX Pentium will likely find its way into notebooks from IBM, Toshiba, Digital, and Compaq Computer, costing from $2,000 to $3,500.

Hitachi so far is the only company to officially announce it will use the new processor, in its value line and corporate notebooks.

Intel's mobile lineup now offers MMX processors at 133, 150, and 166 MHz. Notebook PCs with 166-MHz processors start at around $4,000 and range to over $6,000. The 150-MHz Intel processor is found in notebooks starting at about $3,500 and reaching up to $5,000.

Intel is expected to offer MMX Pentiums running at 200 and 233 MHz later this year.

MMX processors improve performance over Intel's classic Pentium processors by using a larger on-chip cache to ensure that the processor is fed a steady stream of data. MMX-enabled chips also include technology that speeds the processing of multimedia functions when used with software that is optimized for the new processors.

Intel's inexpensive mobile processors may face some competition late this year from start-up Centaur Technology, a subsidiary of Integrated Device Technology (IDT). Centaur's Intel-compatible, Pentium-class MMX chip is targeted at notebook PCs and is slated to run as fast as 200 MHz. Advanced Micro Devices is also expected to bring out mobile K6 processors.

The new processor is being sold for $284 in 1,000-unit quantities, according to Intel.

Intel is an investor in CNET: The Computer Network.