Intel reaches the 2GHz milestone

Amidst the glamour of a 20-ft. stage, strobe lights and a big screen overhead interacting with the crowd, Intel Corp. today unveiled the new Pentium IIII 2GHz processor.

In a mere 18 months, the company has moved from the Pentium II 450 to 2GHz – effectively doubling the speed. In retrospect, it took nearly 30 years for the industry to achieve 1GHz, calling into question the idea of Moore’s Law.

“Moore’s Law is very healthy, (and) holding true for the next few years. After that, it’s hard to see. We expect to go to 10GHz”, said Louis Burns vice-president and general manager of Intel’s desktop platform group.

He predicted that whatever platforms IT buys today are the platforms they will continue to use until 2004.

Burns said Intel has been trying to envisage how people will use their systems in the future, and said in the corporate space, what has emerged is the idea of the collaborative environment and peer-to-peer usage. And in the speed department, Burns was candid.

“The P4 is the fastest thing on the planet”, he said, and added that software is beginning to take advantage of the architecture that is currently available.

However, this raises some concern because in the two demonstrations, one of a 3D car model and another that created a doctor/patient file, in both cases the software worked in conjunction with the P4 and not giving a clear indication of its speed capabilities.

The P4 is now available in boxed form and on Intel motherboards. Dell Computer Corp., Compaq Computer Corp., Gateway Inc., and Hewlett-Packard Co. are among the vendors immediately shipping 2-GHz systems.

Benchmarks aside, the significance of reaching 2 GHz won’t be lost on consumers, says Kevin Krewell, senior analyst with MicroDesign Resources.

While Intel and PC vendors will undoubtedly play up the significance of reaching 2GHz, this milestone won’t last, said Kevin Krewell, senior analyst with MicroDesign Resources. Just as the 1GHz mark was doubled in 18 months, he expects a 3GHz chip to arrive within another year. After that, a 4-GHz processor should hit by the second quarter of 2003.

As processor technology continues to improve, frequencies will rapidly advance, and landmark speeds will come and go quickly, Krewell said. “Blink and you’ll miss them.”

– With files from Tom Mainelli, PC

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