RealTime IT News

Chip Rivals Feel the Need for More Speed

Whispers say that Intel Corp. and Advanced Micro Devices Inc. Monday will release new chips in a week that features two highly-anticipated technology shows -- MacWorld San Francisco and the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.

In a fierce fight to produce that fastest chip, Santa Clara, Calif.-based Intel will unleash a 2.2-gigahertz chip, accompanied by a new 2GHz product, according to numerous published reports.

Code-named Northwood, the new Pentium 4 chips will be equipped with larger caches for increased data storage. But perhaps chief among the new offering is that Northwood was developed 0.18-micron equipment, but with smaller-than-usual transistors (0.13 micron); they'll be faster, cheaper and should consume less power. This, analysts consensus maintains, is a significant edge over Sunnyvale, Calif.'s AMD because cheaper chips attract more customers.

AMD, reports say, will fire back with its Athlon XP 2000+, a chip that at 1.6GHz, will run slower than Intel's Northwood. AMD has traditionally been a step behind speed-concentrated Intel, but it has also steadfastly argued that its processors match Intel's performance because they handle more data per second.

So which is better? Impossible to say exactly, although analysts often point to specific features when tired of arguing over whether speed is the deciding factor. In this scenario, Northwood's increased cache could be a competitive edge.

Whatever the case may be, the chip releases may very well be eclipsed by the before-and-after buzz of products and deals generated at MacWorld and CES, which will be kicked off by keynotes Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, respectively.