is putting the finishing touches on its next-generation Pentium
processor in an attempt to fend off advances by rival AMD
The Santa Clara, Calif.-based chip-making giant could not confirm the
exact release date of its desktop chip (code-named Prescott) but did say it already
is getting revenue for shipments (read: orders from vendors).
Sources close to the company told internetnews.com the chip is
currently in fabrication production and, while specific branding on the
processor has not been decided, it is likely that Prescott will
maintain the Pentium 4 moniker.
Company spokesperson George Alfs said Prescott will replace the current
P4 “Northwood” chip as its high-volume desktop model and include some great
“Prescott marks our move to 90 nanometers on the desktop and doubles the
amount of L1 and L2 cache currently found in Northwood,” Alfs told
When it does debut, three Prescott chips are expected, running at speeds of 3.06GHz,
3.2GHz, and 2.8GHz — some with “Extreme Edition” properties. The Prescott
will also be compatible with Intel-based 848, 865, and 875 chipset boards.
They’ll support HyperThreading and contain 13 new sets of
Instructions, including streaming Single Instruction Multiple Data (SIMD),
which is designed to improve 3D and multimedia.
Intel is in a unique position, however, because Prescott is a 32-bit chip
by nature and will go head-to-head with the new 64-bit Athlon family
produced by AMD. Since its introduction in September 2003, the new Athlon 64 has sparked speculation that Intel
would need its own version to counter AMD’s advances. So far, Intel has not
shown its hand.
“We have not talked about 64-bit extensions in any of our desktop
processors,” Alfs said. “Rumors have been going on about that for years now,
but we have not confirmed it. Certainly we think about a lot of things and,
as far as adding 64-bit to our desktops, we would have to seriously consider it
and would wait for the right time.”
According to Intel’s Web site, there are some limited 64-bit instruction
capabilities but so far, Intel’s 64-bit focus has been on its EPIC-based
High-performance computing. Intel has maintained that there is no mainstream
64-bit application available that is pushing a 64-bit desktop agenda.
“There’s a lot of work ahead before that happens,” Alfs said. “I’d rather
not speculate on how a transition would take place.”
But Intel can’t hold out for too much longer. Vendors listed on
DealTime.com are already advertising the next desktop Athlon (Series
3400+), slated for release on January 6th.
Intel is expected to update its developer community during its Spring
conference in February.