Intel will cease production of its stalwart Pentium microprocessor by the end of 1998, company officials confirmed this week. The Pentium was originally introduced in 1994 in 60 and 66 MHz versions. In 1997, it was upgraded with multimedia extensions called MMX. The latest versions of the chip now run at 233 and 266 MHz. While the Pentium is, by far, Intel's most successful product, the company's image was briefly marred a few years ago when the news of an FPU bug in 60, 66, and 90 MHz Pentiums surfaced. After an embarrassing public turnaround, the company finally agreed to replace all existing Pentiums at no cost.

The original successor to the Pentium, the Pentium Pro, held a brief position at the top of Intel's CPU scheme until the introduction of the Pentium II. The Pentium II now forms the backbone of Intel's near-term strategy going forward, with a new "Slot 2" design expected by this summer. Slot 2 Pentium II designs will effectively signal the end of the Pentium Pro as well. Intel will be releasing low-end Pentium II CPUs this year as well, to replace the original Pentium design