Intel has made its entry into the graphics chip market with the introduction of a fast, inexpensive 3-D chip that is expected to turn the industry on its head. Called the Intel740, the new chip has been optimized to run alongside the Pentium II processor and will serve as the cornerstone of Intel's new and broad-ranging assault on the graphics chip market. Much of the Intel740's expected success hinges on the overwhelming success of the Accelerated Graphics Port (AGP) interface in the graphics industry. AGP is based on a standard introduced by Intel in late 1996. By adding a dedicated AGP, Intel has managed to free up PCI bandwidth normally used by graphics cards. The new technology enables dynamic use of main memory for faster 2-D and 3-D graphics. Coupled with AGP, the advanced graphics technology of the Intel740 will make possible a whole new generation of graphically based consumer and business applications for PCs. The Intel740's combined 3-D architecture and 2-D and video acceleration will introduce a much-higher level of realism to desktop PCs. "The Intel740's pipelined 3-D architecture should enable mainstream PC users to experience unique graphics quality and performance from a new generation of applications like arcade-style 3-D games and movie-quality DVD titles," said Avtar Saini, vice president of Intel's Platform Components Division. "The Intel740 chip promises to deliver high performance for developers and end users," said Jay Torborg, director of Graphics and Multimedia at Microsoft Corp. "The combination of the Intel740 and its solid implementation of the industry standard Direct3-D API will mean increased power and flexibility for game developers and more compelling content for end-users." The announcement, which comes closely on the heels of Intel's recent acquisition of Chips and Technologies, can only cause worries for chip makers in an already highly competitive market. Analysts predict that with increased cooperation between Intel and manufacturers of both 2-D and 3-D graphics cards, Intel is already a player. The company is expected to ship as many as 10 million of the new chips before the end of the year. In the end, Intel's move into the graphics market should raise the quality bar for computer graphics while driving prices down. The Intel740 will be available in volume production for third-party graphics vendors and OEM manufacturers in February 1998 and is priced at $34.75 in volume quantities. Apple Can Still Claim Fastest Notebook Apple Computer has announced plans to begin shipping notebooks featuring 292-Mhz 750 PowerPC processors. Delivery of such a system, which will hit the streets at about the same time as laptops sporting Intel's 266-Mhz and 300-Mhz Pentium II, would help Apple notebooks maintain their status as the fastest laptops on the market. The top-of-the-line model PowerBook is expected to cost around $6,300, while midrange models will sell for about $2,500. Unlike previous PowerBook lines, Apple has gone to a common circuit board for all new PowerBooks, a practice the company started with G3 desktops. Designing components common to multiple models will help Apple reduce manufacturing costs.