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Intel to take P4, P4EE to 3.4GHz next quarter – report

More Prescott-shaped holes to plug?

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Intel will take the Pentium 4 Extreme Edition - along with the regular version - to 3.4GHz during the first quarter of 2004, presumably in a buffer for the initial absence of high clock frequency versions of the next generation of the Pentium 4, the 90nm 'Prescott'.

So claim sources close to Intel cited by Xbit Labs.

Neither chip was present on the most last set of roadmaps we saw, from October. That document listed the 3.2GHz P4EE shipping in Q4 ahead of the 3.4GHz Prescott in Q1 2004. If the reports' sources are accurate in their description of the chip giant's latest roadmap, that suggests volume availability of the 3.2GHz and 3.4GHz Prescotts may now be edging toward the end of the quarter.

Since the 3.2GHz P4EE was designed as much to fill a Prescott-shaped hole in the company's 2003 roadmap as to battle AMD's Athlon 64 FX chip, it's not unreasonably to assume that the 3.4GHz version is filling a similar gap in the early 2004 part of the roadmap.

Intel has to ship some Prescotts this year, so make good its promise to generate revenue from the product. On the basis of past roadmaps it was assumed it would offer limited quantities of the high-end Prescotts, but Intel has made no public statements about what clock frequencies it will offer. Our gut feeling is that it will actually offer limited quantities of the 2.8GHz and 3GHz Prescotts, originally roadmapped to follow the release of the faster parts, but now likely to precede them.

Certainly the above mentioned sources say Intel will release 2.8GHz and 3GHz Prescotts during Q1, as per roadmaps going back to August at least. Both those parts are thought to operate at a 533MHz effective bit rate frontside bus rather than the full 800MHz version supported by top-end 130nm P4s and 90nm Prescotts. Higher FSB versions of the low-end Prescotts are expected to follow later in the quarter.

Said sources claim the various Prescotts will be priced to match their equivalently clocked 130nm P4s. They even suggest the 3.4GHz Prescott will cost $417 at launch, we seems unlikely to us as if breaks with the established Intel tradition of pricing new, top-end chips high, at $600 or more.

That said, Intel recently cut the price of its top-of-the-range 3.2GHz P4 from $637 to $417, so maybe its setting the latter sum as its top desktop price. Given what it has spend developing Prescott, you'd have thought the company would want to maximise revenue right from the start, though.

Meantime, the problem appears to be getting Prescott out the door. Once the line is available, Intel expects to ramp volumes and clock speeds rapidly going through the year, taking the chip to 4GHz by the end of 2004, and introducing its 775-pin Land Grid Array socket system at some point during the year. ®

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