THE accelerated transition to Intel's flagship Pentium processor has been cited as the primary growth driver after the company reported record revenues of US$4.17 billion (HK$32.23 billion) for its third quarter - up a phenomenal 46 per cent from $2.86 billion for the same period a year ago. Intel sales for the first nine months of the year (about $11.6 billion), has already outstripped revenue for all of last year. Shareholders have little to complain about, with net income up 41 per cent to $931 million from the same quarter a year ago. Net income rose a healthy six per cent from the company's 1995 second quarter from $879 million. Chief executive Andrew Grove said much of the company's growth has been derived from the general move in the industry from 80486-based machines to Pentium models. Intel enjoys far higher profit margins from its Pentium range of products, where microprocessor clone makers are only now beginning to ship Pentium-class microprocessor equivalents. Mr Grove said Intel passed a milestone in its third quarter in that unit shipments of Pentium processors exceeded that of 80486 processors for the first time 'We have helped accelerate this transition by offering chipsets and motherboards to enable computer manufacturers to bring their products to market faster,' Mr Grove said. Coincidentally, the announcement of Intel's third quarter results coincides with the 10th anniversary of the introduction of the 386 processor, the first of the company's 32-bit line of processors. Since that time Mr Grove boasted the company had shipped more than 160 million processors to market, and invested more than US$17 billion in R&D and capital in order to deliver four generations of new products on five generations of manufacturing processes. Intel is expecting something of a sales boom this Christmas - traditionally the biggest sales period of the year.