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Chipzilla gears up for 2GHz-plus PCs

Desktop processors to Q2 2002

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Intel Roadmap Update Intel will have pushed the desktop PC beyond 2GHz at the high end, and driven the Pentium 4 processor down into the lowest reaches of the mainstream PC market by the end of the year, The Register has learned.

The basics of Chipzilla's plan comes in an update to the desktop processor roadmap we saw late last year. Northwood, the successor to the P4, is due to be launched at the workstation market during Q3 this year, but by November, price cuts will be pushing it down into Intel's Performance PC category (desktops priced at $2000 or more). By the end of Q1 2002, it will dominate that category and moving well into the mainstream.

By then, volume led price cuts should have pushed the P4 throughout Intel's three mainstream PC sub-categories (the $1500-2000, $1200-1500 and $1000-1200 price brackets), to the point at which it's even squeezing out Tualatin, the 0.13 micron speed-bump to the Pentium III, whose current incarnation, Coppermine, will be to all intents and purposes dead by Q1 2002.

Tualatin is already expected to debut during Q3 2001 at 1.26GHz, but Q4 should see it clock beyond that to replace the 1.3GHz P4, by then shipping in 1.4, 1.5, 1.7 and 2GHz modes.

Come Q2 2002, Tualatin will take the Celeron family past the 1GHz barrier and introduce a 133MHz frontside bus to Intel's value PC category. Q4 2001 will see the introduction of the 950MHz Celery which should be nudged up toward 1GHz during the following quarter.

The introduction of Tualatin will be followed by the Brookdale chipset "with PC133 at launch, DDR and PC133 simultaneous support in Q1 2002" to enable the "full range of memory support".

Between Q3 2001 and Q1 2002, Brookdale will spread throughout the Mainstream PC sector. Intel's 815/E will end Q1 2002 padding out the very bottom of the $1000-1200 sub-category, while the Rambus-based 850 will be unchallenged in the Performance PC category and sharing the Mainstream sector with Brookdale.

And if that doesn't tell you Intel is keen on pushing Rambus, nothing will. "Place orders now," it's telling OEMs, "to ensure adequate RDRAM supply to match accelerated ramp."

During Q2 this year, a B-step upgrade to the 815/E will add Tualatin support. The 815G/EG, which is due to be launched during Q3 aimed at the Value PC sector, thanks to its on-board graphics, will support Tualatin come Q1 2002. ®

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