It's that time again - you know - the one when Intel does it bit to confuse the PC hardware scene with a flurry of marketing devices designed to renew their grip on your wallet, by presenting you with a teensy bit more power and performance, and lashings of extra hype.
After the near shambles of Pentium 2 and Celeron, I suppose Intel really needed to refocus its market before competitors like AMD and Cyrix were biting large chunks from their markets once again.
"A Better Internet Experience" seems to catch phrase of this particular marketing device. SO how can a 400MHz CPU possibly make a difference to the 99% of UK users condemned to 64k ISDN or slower internet connections? The answer, of course, is that it cannot, and if the ASA was able to muster the technical nous to plug in a modem and test the veracity of such tripe, then they might be obliged to ask Intel to qualify the misleading phrase. Let's explore Intels marketing waffle in more detail:
"The Pentium III processor offers the performance for the next generation of the Internet…"
The "next generation" of the Internet? What are they blathering on about?
"The Intel Pentium III processor can unleash the full multimedia capabilities of your PC, including full-screen, full-motion video, and realistic graphics for an enhanced, exciting Internet experience. "
So get a P3 and suddenly your 28k8 modem is capable of delivering full motion video? Pull the other one. And in case you think that this is obvious, I should like to point out that someone I know who controls large budgets for a City investment business actually asked if the P3 wasn't going to upset a plan he was working on that involved motion video deliver over broadband. He asked…
"How does the launch of the Pentium III affect what we are trying to do with XYZ? If Intel decent quality video can be compressed and sent and decompressed down regular lines, how much of a lead will we have? "
So I had to respond:
"Please don't believe everything you read in press releases, especially from US IT companies, and especially from Intel. This operation could teach IBM about FUD."
I don't know if he really believed me - but you do, don't you..?
And the sales hypes goes on…
"… as well as the quality, reliability and compatibility you expect from the world's leading microprocessor company. "
I'd like to be able to talk about the P3 from first hand experience, but since Intel do not see fit to provide us hacks with evaluation these products, I can only read the hype and base the translation to reality on all my experiences of the Intel business ethos. I have however, been looking deep into AMD products, and can therefore see quite clearly why Intel feels the need to try and FUD the CPU business in its usual manner before AMD really starts to kick donkey - or whatever it is that Americans do.
Since the Intel motherboards we have here running Intel Pentium 2 devices are the most unreliable combinations (9 BIOS revisions in 3 months..?) alongside boards from Gigabyte, ABIT, ASUS and QDI, I can only extrapolate what lies in store for the early adopters of the P3 technology. I would guess that a period of "settling in" is likely while the users find out if this one can add up or not, and discover that the High End and Business Winstone benchmarks of the P3-450 are exactly the same as for the P2-450.
Then look at AMD's benchmarks, which dare to compare, at: http://www.amd.com/products/cpg/k6iii/k6iiibchmks.html
All the blather on the Intel website is short of direct competitive comparisons.:
"The Pentium III processor enables higher polygon counts and advanced lighting effects, which can provide software and Web sites with more lifelike surfaces, more objects rendered in a given scene, and amazing shadow effects and reflections rendered in real time."
And when it does get a bit specific, the conclusions are alarming:
" In addition, the performance capabilities of the processor allow for real-time MPEG 2 video encoding and editing and great performance for streaming video—resulting in higher quality video on the Internet. "
The MPG2 specification is based on data rates from 3-6Mbit. How's your 6Mbit internet connection these days..?
I'm very sorry Intel, but you make so much money so easily from this market, that I think you need to do a whole lot better than this, simply to do justice to your hard-earned reputation. And you might like to tell us all why, if the P3 is so darned great, why did you foist the Slot One and P2 on us all, when you knew it was going to be made redundant in a year..? MHz for MHz P2 is only marginally better than its Socket 7 counterparts, and it seems much more like an effort to shut out the competition, than deliver genuine end user benefits.
But silly me, here I go again, foolishly attributing any vestige of altruism to any business that operates in this market. They are in it for the profit, and I can't fault them on that score, Intel makes more profit than many small countries manage in total GDP.
So look at AMD's K6-3 (www.amd.com) and wonder if this isn't actually what really prompted Intel to launch the Pentium 3 at this time.
Just maybe there's a hardware version of Linus Torvalds who can be persuaded to produce an "open source" CPU design and some silicon foundry with no axe to grind, willing to fab it. Then we can have the combined talents of internet develop it and nurture for the Greater Good.
Could it happen? Should I register the name "Pentux" and give it to the world..?