Cyrix beat Intel out the door with a new CPU that runs on motherboards with a 100 MHz bus (current Pentium/Pro/II systems run on a 66 MHz bus) with the release of its 300 MHz M II microprocessor. The M II line, unlike Intel's Pentium II, is based on the Socket 7 motherboard design used by the normal Pentium and Pentium MMX. It replaces Cyrix's earlier 6X86MX line of chips, and is designed to deliver Pentium II-level performance with Pentium pricing.

"This will crush Celeron in performance," said Stan Swearingen, senior director of business development and marketing at Cyrix, referring to the new low-end CPU Intel will be releasing on Wednesday. The Celeron is essentially a 266 MHz Pentium II with no L2 cache. Early estimates are that the Celeron is extremely underpowered and is not even a match for normal Pentium CPUs.

Best of all, the M II is extremely cheap: only $180 in quantities of 1000. A 333 MHz version of the M II will be released next month, followed by a 350 MHz version at midyear and a 400 MHz version by year's end