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Tech Industry

On the road to MMX

Major computer vendors ready PCs that use MMX-enabled Pentium processors.

Major computer vendors are readying PCs to be released early next year that use Intel's (INTC) MMX-enabled Pentium processors.

Toshiba plans to first introduce MMX-based models in its Infinia home computer line.

"We're looking for the advantage that it presents for the gaming market" said Mike Wagner, Toshiba's director of desktop marketing. The desktop systems will appear on the market during the first quarter. "As we move into the second quarter we'll move [the MMX processor] into our higher-end portables." said Wagner.

IBM (IBM) also intends to use the MMX in both its desktop and notebook systems. While all computer divisions will support the MMX processor, one of the first areas it will be seen in is the ThinkPad line of notebook PCs.

AST (ASTA) will formally announce a new model of its Advantage Consumer System on January 8. The system, which will be immediately available, will use the MMX processor and come in 166- and 200-MHz configurations. Other features will include a 1.6GB hard drive, 16 to 24MB of RAM, a 28.8-kbps modem, and an 8X CD-ROM drive.

The system will retail for approximately $1,700. AST will introduce its own MMX-based notebooks during the second quarter, and a desktop system based on the MMX-enabled version of the P6, which will be targeted toward the business market, is planned for April.

Sony (SNE) will be using the chip in its Vaio line of consumer desktop computers. "It's absolutely the right technology for the direction we're headed." said a Sony spokesperson.

Sony will be introducing new models into its existing line that employ the MMX chip. "This is not just a CPU replacement on an existing system; we have redesigned the motherboard," the company said. The external design of the systems will be identical to Sony's current products.

Unless software is rewritten to take advantage of the chip, users will not see much performance gain. "Software has to be written in such a way as to take advantage of the additional command sets. In the beginning, [the MMX processor] will probably not be fully utilized by software developers," Sony said. The company is confident, however, that MMX-based systems will eventually bring substantial performance gains to multimedia computing.