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Obituary: Pentium MMX nearly dead. Celeron barely alive

Market reacts to cut-down processor with obloquy

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A year ago Posted 30 March 1998 The same sources that report that we will all stand at the graveside of the last Pentium MMX this August also expect we will cheer the arrival of the Celeron. This, of course, in a similar way to the refrain: "The king is dead, long live the king." But evidence is mounting that Intel will find it hard to persuade the masses that opting for an entry-level Celeron, sans cache, will produce the same results as the previous processor. And one competitor, at least, is claiming that Intel is perpetrating a trick on punters which will rebound on its financial figures. Rana Mainee, market planning manager for AMD Europe, cannot be expected to be impartial. But, he said today: "The Celeron stinks the same way as the 486SX and the 487SX stank." Mainee said: "Intel’s had a pretty low profile on socket seven but that market is still buoyant. I’m very surprised that Intel says that the Pentium II now represents over half of their shipments. He said: "Dataquest has Slot One share at 10 per cent for the last quarter. I expected the Pentium II number to rise, but I’d be very surprised if it has risen that high in the last quarter. "The big crunch Intel has this year is that people won’t pay extra for the extra horsepower. Maybe the whole hardware industry has become complacent. This is the first time you have a so-called latest technology processor which is actually slower than a previous processor." He claimed system builders and assemblers, which supply a large percentage of PCs here and abroad, are still happy to buy the old socket seven processors when they can get them. And his views are echoed by Sukh Rayat, managing director of UK distributor Flashpoint. He said: "Now Intel’s actually taken a step backwards because it’s suffering. The entry-level market is the fastest growing sector of the market." Rayat said that Intel’s business model precludes it from concentrating on the Celeron-like sector because it needs high margins to fund the high fab investments it makes. Said Mainee: "I think AMD, Cyrix and IDT can take well over half of this [retail] market. The Pentium II was way off the mark last year and is a bit closer to the market this year." But, he added, Intel would have been more honest to its customers if it had stuck with socket seven, rather than promoting a product which would underperform. He said that was a disservice to end users, most of whom viewed a PC as their third biggest purchase. And he wondered how Intel would position the Celeron after it had spent large advertising bucks on promoting the PII technology. ®

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