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Race to 1GHz bad for end users

Semi companies rolling revs out too fast

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The race between AMD, Intel -- and now IBM -- to be first to market with a 1GHz microprocessor is having a bad effect on corporate users of PCs because of too fast roll-outs and changes of platform, it has emerged. Intel is expected to demonstrate a 1GHz CPU running without benefit of cooling at next week's Developer Forum, while AMD, according to sources close to the firm, has already succeeded in clocking its Athlon K7 to that speed. Meanwhile, Compaq is promising to clock its Alpha processor to 1GHz, possibly around the middle of the year, while IBM's latest claims have further upped the ante in the race. But, according to Joe D'Elia, senior semiconductor analyst at Gartner Europe, this is "pure testosterone" from the chip companies, and is having a deleterious effect on large businesses attempting to keep their roll-outs stable. He said: "We see a backlash because consumers do not see the need to move to faster and faster clock speeds." He said large corporations cannot roll out tens of thousands of PCs overnight, just to discover later on that the microprocessors have become unavailable because the chip companies have moved to higher speeds. What happens, he said, is that PC suppliers are not able to deliver at the lower clock speeds, because the chips become unavailable. Added to that, large corporations need to be sure that the platforms for the microprocessors need to be available too. Changes in chipsets, which affect motherboards, and other changes, such as memory standards also affect end users. He said firms such as Compaq and the other large PC vendors have had to re-assure their customers that there will be some longevity to platforms. An Intel representative said that the company's different product lines had varying life cycles, depending on the platform. The Xeon, for example, on the desktop and workstation level, had built in stability for the workstation and server markets. He agreed that large corporations required stability but said it was important for them to buy at the high, rather than the lower end of the spectrum, to ensure that scalability. ® See also Willamette is Intel's favourite Petzilla

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