Tokyo retailers jump the gun on Pentium 4

Retailers in Tokyo’s Akihabara electronics district over the weekend started selling the first Intel Corp. Pentium 4 processors and motherboards, jumping the gun on the chip giant’s official launch of the new processor family.

While Intel Corp. later Monday is scheduled to launch the long-awaited Pentium 4 in the United States, in Japan the official launch will take place Tuesday in tandem with other Asian markets including Taiwan.

Clevery Co. Ltd., which has several shops in Akihabara, began selling the new processor bundled with an Intel motherboard on Sunday, said a sales clerk at one of the shops. The top-end 1.5GHz version of the processor bundled with Intel’s D850GB motherboard was selling for 154,800 yen (US$1,433) on Monday morning, while the 1.4GHz processor with the same motherboard was 129,800 yen – a reduction on the 138,000 yen it was selling for a day earlier.

A short walk away at User’s Side Co. Ltd., a boxed 1.5GHz Pentium 4 was on sale for 140,000 yen although the company had no motherboards for sale. A sales assistant wouldn’t say when they went on sale but simply said the official launch date was Tuesday.

Elsewhere in Akihabara, many shops selling PC components were promising the new chip and motherboards from Tuesday. Local PC media Web sites reported a Pentium 4 motherboard from Taiwan’s Asustek Computer Inc., the Asus P4T, on sale for 47,800 yen in Akihabara, while unboxed 1.5GHz and 1.4GHz Pentium 4 chips were selling at between 127,980 yen to 138,000 yen and 108,000 yen and 118,000 yen, respectively. Intel’s official pricing for the processors is expected to be in the US$600 to $800 range.

The latter two products first appeared in Akihabara a week ago, according to the reports.

Full systems featuring the Pentium 4 are also expected to be on sale later in the week.

A sales assistant at a Gateway Japan Inc. shop said the new machines would be on sale the coming weekend. Prices were not decided yet, he said, “but I think they will be expensive. Maybe one rank above our current Pentium III systems.”

Intel, in Santa Clara, Calif., can be reached at Clevery Co. Ltd., in Tokyo, is at User Side Co. Ltd., in Tokyo, is at Gateway Japan, in Yokohama, Japan, is at