Amid all the bells and whistles, Intel has launched its much-touted Pentium 4 (P4) processor. But at $US819 for a 1.5GHz processor in 1000 unit quantities and requiring a new chipset, demand for Intel's newest offering remains uncertain.
The company claims to have completely overhauled its technology, developing a new micro-acrchitecture known as NetBurst to power the 32-bit processors. It uses Hyper Pipelined Technology in which software instructions are dealt with in 20 stages rather than the 10 found in previous Intel offerings, providing the key to the processor's scalability.
The unit's streaming extension means integers and floating calculations are doubled, according to the vendor. The P4 also uses a 400MHz system bus to transfer data between the processor and the main memory.
Local assemblers such as Ipex, Todaytech and Optima are already offering P4 systems. Intel is also now shipping boxed P4 processors with 128 RDRAM a D850GB board and platform integration kits through its Intel Premier Providers Program for other participating integrators.
"The Pentium 4 is designed for where we see the Internet moving," Intel's Australian general manager David Bolt said last week when the chip giant launched the P4 worldwide. "This is the first launch of new micro-architecture for Intel in four or five years. We have designed it for the next several years enhancement in clock speeds - without this change we are just going to be bottlenecked."
Lately Intel has found itself playing second fiddle to AMD's speedier Athlon series. Combined with ongoing product shortages, product recalls and a raging memory technology debate, its channel has been feeling a bit hard done by in the processor department.
Intel is keen not to repeat past supply mistakes with the new processor in its bid to undertake one of the fastest ramps in the company's history.
"It is true we have been playing catch-up in that [the supply] area," Bolt admitted. "But we don't anticipate any challenges to meet demand. We will supply the system through the local channel as well as through international players, as well as the chipsets. We believe we have anticipated the ramp of this thing and have plenty of product."
Current the processor uses dual RDRAM memory banks. But the industry can expect to see SDRAM versions in the future and Intel is also working on DDR support, Bolt said.