IDF: Nehalem ‘out in the future,’ Intel says

A senior Intel Corp. executive confirmed Tuesday that the company is working on a project code-named Nehalem but would not comment on details of the project or whether the code name refers to a successor for the company’s Pentium 4 processor.

Nehalem was first mentioned in an interview with Intel engineer Doug Carmean posted on – and later removed from – Intel’s Web site. In that interview, Carmean said that Nehalem was a chip based on a new architecture that is different from the Pentium 4 and would likely begin shipping in 2004. That has led to speculation among some observers that Nehalem could be a successor to the Pentium 4.

“Nehalem is a fine word that people have tried to associate things to but we won’t comment on it,” said Louis Burns, vice-president and co-general manager of Intel’s Desktop Platforms Group, speaking to the press at the Intel Developer Forum in Taipei. “It’s out in the future, we’ll just leave it at that.”

Whatever Nehalem may be, Intel sees plenty of performance headroom left in the Pentium 4 architecture and plans to develop additional chips based on that design. In 2003, the company plans to release an updated version of the Pentium 4, code-named Prescott, which will be produced using a 90-nanometer process and incorporate several improvements over existing Pentium 4 models, Burns said.

Prescott will not be the last Pentium 4 chip, Burns said.

“We will continue to enhance and improve the (Pentium 4) architecture and, like I said, there’s certainly nothing to say about Nehalem,” he said.