Tiny Transistors And Cold Pizza

The birth of Intel's Pentium chip--and the labor pains

On Mar. 22, Intel Corp. will officially launch what is unquestionably the most complex microprocessor ever built--and possibly the most important chip in the company's history. Called Pentium, it packs 3.1 million transistors--incredible even for a chip four times bigger than Intel's current champ, the 486. Not only will Pentium take personal computers to new heights, but it also should help Intel distance itself from increasingly successful cloners--at least for a while. And it's likely to blunt the RISC (reduced instruction-set computer) challenges from the likes of Digital Equipment Corp. and MIPS Computer Systems Inc.

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