At its Developer Forum in San Jose yesterday, Intel confirmed it would launch a slightly tweaked Pentium 4 chip, titled Extreme Edition, but refused to be drawn on whether it was a sweetener aimed at stopping Dell defecting to arch-rival AMD.

With AMD's Athlon 64 processor, due to launch on 23 September, taking the technological lead, Intel?s announcement couldn?t have been better timed to steal some thunder. Wooing Dell to produce Athlon 64 systems would be a coup for AMD, handily dispatching the final Intel-only shop in the process.

Despite its rather grand name, Pentium 4 Extreme Edition's main difference over its sedentary sibling is an extra 2MB of Level 3 cache. Sadly for Intel, the fact that details of the processor leaked out on to the web hours before the official announcement proved more interesting than the product itself.

Intel?s pitching the chip at gamers and enthusiasts, a group that accounts for less than five percent of the market by its own figures.

The chip giant claims it will be the fastest processor available, but wouldn?t release specific performance scores before its launch in 30-60 days' time. By then there?ll be Athlon 64 systems in the wild, so we?ll have to wait and see if it lives up to its claims.