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Intel admits it ‘changed’ Prescott thermal target

Still won't put a figure to it

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Intel's 90nm Pentium processor, codenamed 'Prescott', may be "sound", according to company President Paul Otellini, but the chip giant has had to change the chip's thermal target, he admitted yesterday.

Speaking during a conference call after the announcement of Intel's Q3 financial results, Otellini said: "We ended up changing the thermal target for Prescott."

But he claimed the company had "changed the thermal envelope [only] slightly."

At Intel Developer Forum last month, both Otellini and CTO Pat Gelsinger avoided going into detail about Prescott's thermal characteristics when challenged. Questions about the processor's heat output were asked after an earlier report on Japanese web site PC Watch claimed the chip pumped out a massive 103W.

That's rather higher than today's Pentium 4 processors running at a slightly lower clock frequency but fabbed using a bigger, 130nm process. Die-shrinks are supposed to yield processors that consume less power, clock for clock.

Alas, said Gelsinger at IDF, thanks to exponentially worse leakage, plus the demand for higher clock speeds and more transistors, 90nm chips are unlikely to run much cooler than 130nm parts - quite the reverse, in fact.

Gelsinger didn't confirm Prescott's alleged 103W power rating; but speaking at IDF about processors in general, he said: "100W for a desktop is OK". That suggests the 103W reports are pretty close to the mark. ®

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