Intel Bows 1.7 GHz Workstation Chip

Despite a widely acknowledged slowdown in spending for computers, chipmakers
are unwavering in their attempts to bring more powerful chips to market. For
the second straight week, Intel Corp. announced a new processor; this one is
geared to power high-end and mid-range workstations.


Based on the company’s NetBurst architecture, the newly-born Intel Xeon
processors ship at frequencies up to 1.7 gigahertz (GHz) and the company is
placing its bet that it will boost performance between 30 and 90 percent,
depending on applications and configurations.


Xeon processors deliver processing power for video, audio and 3-D graphics
for workstations. Xeon processor platforms are based on the Intel 860
chipset, which feature dual RDRAM memory banks to complement the Intel
Xeon’s 400 MHz system bus, which provides up to 3.2 gigabytes (GB) of data
per second.


Intel believes platforms with Xeon will be ready to roll in the latter half
of 2001, with the usual suspects — Compaq Computer Corp., Dell Computer
Corp. Hewlett-Packard Co. and IBM Corp. — shipping the platforms this
quarter. The Intel Xeon processor at 1.7 GHz is priced at $406, the 1.5 GHz
version at $309 and the 1.4 GHz at $268 in 1,000-unit quantities


Intel and chief rival Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) could use all of the
positive news they can fetch as analysts have been forced to pay attention
to a rather stagnant period in PC purchasing.


In fact, Merrill Lynch’s Joe Osha Monday lowered estimates on both companies
in light of the sluggish market. Doubting that margins will significantly
improve by 2002, Osha said rising depreciation would remain a challenge for
Intel. As for AMD, Osha was even less optimistic, noting that investors
don’t need to buy AMD stock as numbers continue to soften for the younger
chip firm.


Still, these firms have showed some determination to focus on the pros with
an eye toward the future of technology. AMD last week debuted a new notebook
chip while Intel recognized that different chips are needed to handle
communications, memory and processing in cell phones, handheld computers and
other wireless devices by unveiling a technology that can put all three
functions onto a single semiconductor, thereby reducing the size of wireless
gadgets and boosting performance. Think of this as a grand slam of sorts for
Intel; it is the first firm to come forward and combine microprocessor,
digital signal
processor (DSP), analog capabilities and high-complexity flash memory into a
single chip. This four-in-one achievement will be difficult to duplicate


Intel’s wireless endeavors also received support from the U.K.’s leading
telco as it also secured a significant deal with British Telecommunications
plc. to develop wireless applications and systems for the giant.


If one is to take advertising seriously, any doubts as to whether or not
Intel is taking the future of computing seriously may be cast aside as the
chipmaker also announced Monday its intent to embark on an ad campaign
championing the future of “large-scale enterprise computing.” With a “macroprocessing” theme
in tow, Intel is touting the benefits of the microprocessor and how volume
economics, performance leadership and industry innovation are meeting the
demands and of servers across the enterprise.


How will they do this? For instance, the campaign uses comparisons, such as
a jet ski with an ocean liner and a set of headphones with a wall of
speakers, to underscore the difference between personal and enterprise-class
computing.


The multi-million dollar campaign, for which specific spending was notdisclosed, will include print, outdoor, and online advertising elements.
Print advertisements will begin May 23 in the U.S. Ads will appear in Asia
and Latin American in June and in Europe in September.

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