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RealTime IT News

Intel Revs its Engines with 2GHz Chip

With reaching unprecedented speeds in mind, Intel Corp. Monday introduced a chip that runs at 2 gigahertz (GHz), or 2 billion cycles per second, making it one of the fastest processors ever to be lodged in a PC.

The latest in Intel's vaunted Pentium 4 processor line, said it sees the chip as a major technology milestone in an age where PCs, despite suffering from stagnant growth progress, are being called upon for faster performance.

Intel, whose chief competition these days is Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), will christen the speedy chip's arrival all week at the Intel Developer's Forum in San Jose, Calif., with demonstrations to be hosted by more than 40 software vendors and computer manufacturers that have endorsed Pentium 4.

Pentium 4 as a whole is geared for maximizing performance for consumers and businesses. Using never-before-faster Pentium systems, individual consumers may process digital video and audio and display 3-D graphics. Intel hopes business users will take advantage of the increased productivity and collaboration potential of the new Pentium 4.

To shade some perspective about just how fast the 2 GHz processor is, Intel claims systems based on the Pentium 4 can create and share digital media about 81 percent faster than a computer with a Pentium III processor at 1 GHz. The Pentium 4 processor at 2 GHz also enables business users to increase productivity more than 50 percent compared to a Pentium III processor at 1 GHz, most notably in multitasking environments where tasks like virus checking, encryption and file compression increase the processor workload.

Intel's new chip release, as underscored by its developer's conference, is just one indication of the race to win over consumers and the enterprise with faster computer speeds, which will enhance Internet experiences. The trumpeting of the Pentium 4 is also part and parcel of a marketing strategy. Last year, AMD beat Intel to the 1 GHz benchmark; Intel's move Monday may call back some attention from investors and prospective buyers.

But AMD's race to the 1 GHz finish line last year is old news as the firm, which holds roughly 20 percent of the computer microprocessor market to Intel's roughly 75 percent share, recently learned that IBM would no longer lodge AMD's chps into its computers in North America. One of the reasons for this change is that AMD's strongest market for its chips is retail stores; IBM moved away from selling PCs in retail stores in 1999.

Big Blue confirmed the dump two weeks ago and while this is surely not the end of the world for AMD, Douglas Lee with Banc of America Securities, said IBM's decision to drop AMD chips from its North American PCs may be a psychological setback.

"I think this demonstrates where the momentum has shifted recently," Lee told On24. "Intel has been very aggressive in cutting prices and stepping up its marketing efforts to increase its share. And we think Intel has been very successful at that."

Lee also said the possibility that other firms will drop AMD has to be a concern. Intel's slashed prices in recent months, he said, could turn the tide.

Meanwhile, Intel Monday also announced availability of two desktop boards, the "ATX" Intel Desktop Board D850MV and the smaller "Micro-ATX" Intel Desktop Board D850MD. Intel also previewed its upcoming 845 chipset. The new SDRAM-based 845 platform will provide cost reductions and increase user choice, enabling a new mainstream platform.

The Pentium 4 processor at 2 GHz is manufactured on Intel's high-volume, 0.18-micron process technology, and is available now. In 1,000-unit quantities, the 2 GHz version is priced at $562; Intel also launched a 1.9 GHz version priced at $375.