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Intel 1.7GHz P4 due Monday, at $350 – sources

Industry mouths speak

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Intel is set to launch the 1.7GHz Pentium 4 on Monday, blitzing prices across the P4 range into the bargain, according to numerous industry sources.

It's certainly prices that will attract the most attention at the chip's debut. Earlier this month, Taiwanese Web site C-Tech claimed the part would debut at $352 - less than half of the $776 price-tag the chip was originally roadmapped to launch with.

Our own sources suggested the price will be $701 at launch, cut to $361 a week later (see Intel to cut up to 60 per cent off P4 prices). Now US distributor sources cited by The Inquirer, a Register tribute site, claim that the launch price will be $350.

Intel itself is keeping mum on the subject, refusing to comment on the claims. However, the weight of the evidence suggest that the 1.7GHz part will indeed fall within the $350-361 at launch, presumably because the chip maker will be bringing forward its 29 April price cuts.

Our sources suggest the come Tuesday, the 1.5GHz P4 will be prices at $256 and the 1.4GHz at $193 - prices that Intel is currently charging for top-end Pentium IIIs, set on Sunday 23 April in its most recent round of price cuts (see Intel cuts desktop, mobile CPU prices by up to 23%)

With the 1.3GHz top-end Athlon at around $256, Intel's pricing move will put intense pressure on AMD to respond in kind. With AMD biting heavily into Intel's marketshare over the last six months or so - US-based market watcher Mercury Research puts their desktop processor marketshares at 77.1 per cent (Intel) and 21.1 per cent (AMD) - Intel is clearly worried.

Of late, AMD has been winning on price-per-megahertz, and has neatly tapped into the current trend that's leading buyers away from top-spec. boxes to powerful-but-cheap PCs. Intel may have been forced onto the same path by the economic downturn and the below-expectations sales of the P4, but if sources' claims for Monday's P4 pricing prove correct, it's now chasing the mainstream market very aggressively indeed. ®

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