Intel cans Pentium II

No more orders taken after 1 December 2005

It's amazing to see these things are still around, but this week Intel told its customers that it is to formally discontinue production of the Pentium II at 266, 333, 366 and 466MHz.

Fortunately for fans of the old processor family, its end is a long way off. Documentation seen by The Register reveals that you'll be able to continue ordering the part for a year, with the last trays leaving the chip giant's Pentium II warehouse on 1 June 2006.

That the part has held on for so long, past the introduction of the Pentium III and the P4, is a sign of its appeal to manufacturers of embedded systems for which high clock speeds and commensurately high power consumption and heat dissipation figures are a problem.

Despite that, the Pentium II has caused Intel problems. Most recently, it was the subject of an intellectual property infringement allegation made against Intel. Canada-based All Computers claims the Pentium II contained circuitry for which it owns the design and Intel doesn't. It wants $500m in damages.

All currently has two patents filed with the US Patent and Trademark Office, both entitled 'Apparatus and method for enhancing the performance of personal computers' and both concerned with adjusting the clock speed of "an accelerator board for use in replacing the microprocessor of a slow speed system board with a microprocessor operating at a higher clock speed". The technique allows CPU clocks to operate at fractional multiples of the system clock rather than whole-number multiples.

The case marks the third time this year Intel has been accused of patent infringement. It has already been on the receiving end of lawsuits from Patriot Scientific, which maintains that Intel's SpeedStep technology clashes with its own patent for a dynamic clock speed adjustment system.

Meanwhile, MicroUnity Systems Engineering claims Intel's SSE 1, 2 and 3 multimedia-oriented instruction sets use technology it owns - again, without permission. ®

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