The New World Order
Intel invented the general-purpose microprocessor back in 1971, with the calculator-based 4004. Through the years, their influence has spread considerably, and Intel CPUs, the brains behind the most popular personal computers, have powered the PC through over 6 generations of development and competition.
Any new line of Intel CPU, either praised or criticized, has always had a lasting effect on the computing industry. The i386 introduced the PC to 32-bit computing, and introduced the "virtual x86 mode," a new processor state which allowed DOS (real-mode) applications to execute in protected mode (a major flaw in the 286, in which protected mode was incompatible with DOS apps).
The 386 era also introduced the high-speed cache to the PC. The i486 integrated the "80387 floating point unit" onto the processor core (oldtimers might remember having to buy a separate floating point processor for their 386 systems), while the main core-logic remained virtually the same. The Pentium processor greatly improved on the floating point capabilities of the 486. The Pentium processor was most notable because it was the first "superscalar" Intel processor, having multiple execution units to the CPU. This greatly increased processor speed beyond the mad MHz rush.
This brings us to the Pentium II. The current king of the hill, the P2 is still based on the same 6th generation technology as the Pentium Pro. With the P2, Intel was able to reap most of the benefits of the PPro at a much lower cost, by separating the CPU and L2 cache, sold in a large metal and plastic cartridge called the Single Edge Contact Cartridge (SECC).
So what's the next step for Intel? On January 11, Intel officially announced the Pentium III processor, known formerly by its codename "Katmai." Set to be released at 450 and 500MHz on February 28th of this year, the Pentium III is the name brand that will carry the Intel processor into the 21st century. So what is this new processor, and what new features does it offer to convince us all to convert?