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Topic: Intel pulls plug on 4-gigahertz chip

  1. #1

    Intel pulls plug on 4-gigahertz chip

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    Intel pulls plug on 4-gigahertz chip

    Fri Oct 15, 7:03 AM ET

    By Michelle Kessler, USA TODAY

    In another embarrassing about-face, No. 1 chipmaker Intel (INTC) told customers Thursday that it will not make a much-touted 4-gigahertz version of its Pentium 4 PC processor.

    The long-promised chip was supposed to power the fastest-ever generation of Intel-based PCs early next year. Instead, Intel will release another chip that has fewer gigahertz but is made faster in other ways. PC users shouldn't be able to tell the difference, Intel says.

    But the public change of tune hints at more problems at Intel, which has struggled with production and inventory. "It's another in a series of eye-opening acknowledgments," says equity analyst Rick Whittington at Caris & Co.

    Intel shares fell 2% to $20.51 Thursday.

    In recent months, Intel delayed several chips and recalled defective ones. It overestimated demand, creating an inventory glut. It was forced to hastily copy a popular chip from smaller rival Advanced Micro Devices.

    Thursday's cancellation is part of Intel's effort to fix those problems, it says. It will free up engineers to work on upcoming "dual core" chips, which have two processors instead of one and are therefore faster. They will also work on tweaking chip design to squeeze out more performance. The shift will cause more changes in Intel's product plans, the company says.

    Intel's shift marks a dramatic change for the chip industry, which is moving away from boosts in megahertz and gigahertz for the first time since the PC was invented.

    Intel has long touted the clock speeds, or basic data-crunching ability, of its processors, and made GHZ speeds almost synonymous with performance. But in reality, "There are several dials on the panel you can twist," to boost a processor's speed, says chip analyst Tony Massimini at Semico Research.

    The chips that will replace Intel's 4 GHz processor get a performance boost from more short-term memory storage. That keeps more data handy, so the chip spends less time retrieving it. It's like having a book on your nightstand instead of at the library, says PC chip analyst Dean McCarron of Mercury Research.

    The change should save Intel money, Whittington says. Adding memory to an existing processor is generally easier and cheaper than building a higher GHz chip. And it should help Intel better use factories slowed by the inventory glut.

    The new chips may also be easier to sell to computer makers. Generally, the more GHz a processor has, the more heat it generates. Some of Intel's existing high-end chips run so hot they require a special fan, which hurt sales and contributed to lower-than-expected earnings in Intel's most recent quarter, Whittington says. The 4-GHz chips would have been even hotter.

  2. #2

    Re: Intel pulls plug on 4-gigahertz chip

    Personally I expect Intel to announce a new platform after the Christmas season has ended. Then we will need a year or so for it to settle down. Remember RAMBUS? Just recently they released a chip that supports faster RAM speeds and performance went up only slightly on some tests, and went down slightly on others. The P4 is near the end of the road.

    AMD launched their 64-bit stuff and it took a while for the prices to settle and the preferred socket to emerge. Now we know that the 939 socket is at the center of their strategy. They have just released some mid-level 0.90 nm devices for this socket and are moving their slower stuff over to the 939. The faster 0.90 CPUs will be released soon for that socket as well.

    Though GS3 isn't officially supported on 64-bit chips, it seems that it works fine on single CPU A64s. Given that HT isn't supported, for the next year the A64 on the 939 socket looks like the way to go.

    Of course, Intel's next platform could really open things up. I sure hope so!


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