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64-bit WinXP set-back forced Intel to delay 4GHz P4?

Pentium 4 580 now set for Q1 2005 debut

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Intel has delayed the arrival of the 4GHz Pentium 4 to Q1 2005, the chip giant has admitted.

The part was originally intended to ship in Q4 2004, but it now appears that that deadline was unfeasible if Intel wanted to ship the part in significant volume.

"To get to the volume we want to, we are telling [customers] we're moving to a Q1 launch date," said Intel spokesman Bill Kircos, according to an InfoWorld report.

It's telling that the P4 delay comes in the very same week Microsoft said it would now not ship 64-bit Windows XP until Q1 2005. It's certainly tempting to see a connection, given later 90nm P4 chips' support for Intel's AMD64-like 64-bit x86 technology, EM64. The first 64-bit enabled P4s will ship next week and be sold to workstation vendors. Monday will also see 64-bit Xeon DP processors derived from the same core go on sale.

Was the 4GHz P4 earmarked as the first 64-bit Pentium for mainstream markets? Intel always said it would ship such a part "when the applications and operating system support was there". Microsoft's decision to delay the latter may well have forced Intel to rethink its own schedule.

Kircos denied the motivation for the move lay with manufacturing or design problems with the chip. In June this year, Intel briefly suspended shipments of its 'Grantsdale' chipset family after their launch because of a glitch. And it recently admitted that it has put back the release of its 'Alviso' Centrino 2 chipset to Q1 2005 because of technical issues.

Last year, the first 90nm P4s were delayed to the end of the year but only in small "revenue shipment" volumes. The processor wasn't formally launched until February 2004. Intel's 90nm Pentium M likewise suffered several delays through 2003 and into 2004 until the company admitted there was a problem and finally rescheduled the launch to May 2004.

The 4GHz desktop part is expected to ship as the P4 580. Presumably the delay will also push back the 4.2GHz P4 590, originally roadmapped for a Q1 2005 release.

In the meantime, Intel is expected to cut its P4 prices on 22 August ahead of or just after the introduction of the 3.8GHz P4 570. It is not known whether the 580 delay will also affect the 570. Certainly with the 3.6GHz 560 coming on stream so recently, Intel may well decide to hold off the faster chip to better fill the gap made by the 580's delay. ®

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