Intel speeding up move to Pentium 4

Intel’s Pentium 4 may be generally available even sooner than expected, according to company officials.

The California-based chip giant Intel Corp. reported Tuesday that it is planning to accelerate the continuing changeover from the Pentium III processor to the Pentium 4 chip.

Intel released the Pentium 4, which boasts double the pipeline depth and twice the core frequency, last fall. It was available in a 1.7 GHz model in April. Now, Intel plans on having the new chip available by the end of the year. That’s about a quarter faster than expected, said Doug Cooper, country manager for Intel of Canada.

“So, going out of Q4, the Pentium 4 will occupy all mainstream price segments,” Cooper said. “Normally, we still would have seen Pentium III occupying price points in what we call the mainstream, which is from $1,200 Canadian to about $2,400 Canadian. We had expected to see Pentium III systems in that lower segment; with our new accelerated plan, we now expect to see Pentium 4 in all of them.”

That is, he added, if everything goes as expected with manufacturers. “It will obviously depend on what the manufacturers decide to do, but we are going on what their ability is based on total materials cost,” he said.

Intel’s plan for early release is fine for Tim Prime, product manager of commercial desktops and workstations at Compaq Canada in Richmond Hill, Ont.

“It is definitely good news,” Prime said. “Anytime Intel tells us that they are going to release chips at an early date at a wide variety of price points, it’s good news.”

While Compaq is shipping some Pentium 4s today, the number and variety will expand after the release later this year, Prime said.

“Pentium 4 is at the high-end of the price range,” he said. “But by the time they release this later in the year, we should be able to price them at the same level as high-end Pentium IIIs are today. By far, the majority of our customers today are still on Pentium III technology.”

Cooper said a better than expected manufacturing performance, along with good yields at high speeds on the Pentium 4, prompted the decision to accelerate.

“We have also pulled in the introduction of the 845 chip set,” he said.

Intel hopes the Pentium 4 will boast its recently announced lower than normal sales expectations and push it ahead of the competition.

“We are always mindful of where our competitors are positioning themselves,” Cooper said. “From a corporate standpoint, with the introduction of Windows XP, a lot of companies are moving to Windows 2000 or XP, they are preparing for an upgraded platform in order to run these new operating systems. By moving these things in early, we intersect that launch much more effectively.”

This, along with other seasonal factors, should set Intel up for a strong third quarter, Cooper said.

“The way we have positioned it in earnings, we came in where we said we would – in Q2,” he said. “We expect Q3 to be up, which typically it is because of back to school and holidays. I think it remains to be seen whether this will have that impact.”

Intel is pushing the Pentium 4 as a computer that will better handle rich digital media. Cooper said this is particularly attractive to Canadian consumers.

“The Canadian market is actually out performing the United States market, from a unit-sales perspective,” he said. “Traditionally, the market for our mainstream products has been strong in Canada. The people who are buying a computer this season are the people who bought a Pentium II early in the game.”

He credits the high use of broadband technology, brought on by lower costs here, with the popularity of high-speed technology in this country.

Intel of Canada is at

Compaq Canada is at

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