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In April, Intel began shipping 350 MHz and 400 MHz versions of its Pentium II microprocessor to desktop PC manufacturers. This release marks an effort by the chip-making giant to produce a range of Pentium II processors that will meet the computing needs of all segments of the small-business PC market. The line includes affordable basic PCs used for word processing and spreadsheets all the way up to high-performance machines ideal for graphics-intensive applications such as desktop publishing. The graphics-crunching abilities of these chips have been further enhanced by a new 100 MHz system bus, the "data pipe" that lets the processor access data from the main memory.
Although some small-business consumers might find the cost of cutting-edge PCs that incorporate the newer, faster chips too high right now, Willy Agatstein, director of small-business marketing for Intel, says it's only a matter of time before innovation and market forces drive prices down. "There is a natural cycle of new products coming into production, going into high-volume production, the cost being reduced, and then a newer product being released," says Agatstein. "For small-business consumers, the prices for [PCs using] the faster chips are going to be lower than ever."
Laptop users will also benefit from the diversified Pentium II line. Intel offers 233 MHz and 266 MHz Pentium II processors that have been slimmed down and redesigned with power requirements similar to those of previous mobile Pentium chips.
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