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Three years ago: Intel's MMX extensions blunder

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After already receiving plenty of stick from august UK organisations like the BBC, mighty Intel faced the combined might of 200 more journalists at the launch of its MMX Pentiums a few weeks back. But this time, the audience included tabloid hacks and many of them wanted answers. Pity then that after a lacklustre presentation by Ian Wilson, a European technology marketing manager, the assembled mass were only given 10 minutes for a Q&A session. The question many wanted to know was why Intel had waited until the Christmas selling season was over before it introduced chips which obsoleted the family that went before. Although Wilson insisted that Pentium chips before the arrival of MMX were not obsolete, his stance was more than a little undermined by an earlier presentation by Gateway 2000 when the company announced that it had obsoleted Pentium 150s and 166s and replaced them with Pentium 150MMX and Pentium 166MMX processors. Nor was Intel highly convincing about the arrival of the Pentium Pro as a home consumer platform later this year with the introduction of Klamath processors. Although our sources tell us that the plug-in card is now delayed, Gateway said two hours earlier that it would, in fact, introduce a Klamath (that is a Pentium Pro on a card) for Christmas 1997. The lacklustre presentation was only mildly improved by a demonstration of software by Intel. It showed us four titles, one or two of which were pretty good-looking although the car-race one which Wilson seemed to like looked more like a race around the bowels of La Defence in Paris to us. And as Microsoft sources tell The Register that it, at least, won't ship its games titles until this Christmas, that leaves Intel in a bit of a sorry mess. Will the poor punters be able to upgrade their expensive Christmas home PCs? Again, Intel was more than a little evasive. The answer is, "yes they will" but there is no price for an Overdrive nor is there a date for one either. If an OEM was clever enough to have designed an Intel motherboard in what Wilson described as a "flexible" way, then people could plug in an MMX chip. All of this led to one distinguished journalist to break out in a bitter diatribe against Intel for only giving 200 of the leading British hacks a mere 10 minutes to answer the many questions begged by this introduction. Wilson's reply was that people could always talk to Intel staff afterwards. Your staffers at The Register thought that was possibly a fruitless endeavour. For us, not even a "happy new year" greeting from spin doctor Gail Hall, an Intel staffer who still, on the whole, feels very cheesed off that we know too much about Klamath and Deschutes technology. It was a frosty reception. Now The Register is not invited to Thursday's party at Planet Hollywood south of Soho nor is The Register allowed to hear Grove explain himself to 1000 IT managers in London next week. Thank god for that. Intel is likely to announce a name for Klamath later this month but our sources at OEMs tell us that the technology is already delayed because of heat problems. The Dell Corporation appears to be getting the blame for being the source of the leak which gave The Register its exclusive leak about Deschutes et al last year. Poor Dell. Intel is said to be now thoroughly revising its security techniques and changing the way it delivers information to its OEMs. No-one in the security wing at Santa Clara appears to have even considered the possibility that rather than make things tighter for its customers, it could try lightening up a little. ® From The Register No. 39

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