1GHz Xeon ships today, Pentium 4 Q4

2GHz soon, Yu might have guessed it


The story has been updated with additional information from a Q&A held directly after the keynote speeches by Barrett and Yu. See bottom of this story

Albert Yu, a senior Intel VP, told delegates at its developer forum today that the company is shipping a 1GHz Pentium III Xeon with 256K of level two cache.

He also demoed a Willamette Pentium 4 running at 2GHz.

At the same time Yu gave an update on the Intel Itanium processor, confirming that pilot systems will ship at the end of the year.

Yesterday, we reported that meant OEM systems would not be available in any real quantity until next year. Intel also conced yesterday that only a very limited number of the 6,000 prototype systems in the industry ran at 800MHz, with the majority operating at clock speeds of 500MHz.

Yu said that Intel is continuing to work on improving power management on notebook technology. The industry should work together to produce slim notebooks that have at least ten hours of life, he said.

He then talked about the desktop and the Pentium 4. "When it launches in the fourth quarter it will be the fastest desktop platform in the world," he said. The Willamette design team had a blank piece of paper and designed the IA-32 processor from scratch.

The core of the arithmetic logical unit (ALU), has the capability to run at different speeds and Yu dubbed this the Rapid Execution Engine (REE), with the architecture in general now called Netburst, as previously reported.

The Pentium 4 will have a 400MHz bus, employ 128 bit Screaming SIMD (SSE2) rather than 64 bits as present. Yu then demoed a 1.4GHz Pentium 4, with 400MHz RDRAM, running real time video graphics.

Yu then demoed a Pentium 4 cranked up to 2GHz.

The Q&A: Rambus et al

Albert Yu was asked if he could give a rough idea of when a 2GHz Pentium might ship. Although his response was "I have no idea", Barrett intervened to say that he wasn't at liberty to divulge it. However, Barrett added that the demo used no special cooling. The part was air-cooled.

Questioned whether Intel felt constrained by the agreement it had with Rambus, Barrett said that Intel still supported RDRAM. "We like the performance at the high end," he said. However, in a somewhat telling statement, he said that the market would decide whether RDRAM was successful or not. "We're not going to hamstring ourselves," he said. "Economics will decide what we do."

Difficulties in executing on the 820 and other problems such as tight supplies, were caused by project planning slippages, said Craig Barrett. "I'm confident we'll have our future projects on target."

While microprocessors was still Intel's core business, and growing, Intel's other business areas are growing faster, said Barrett.

The PlayStation 2 was likely to be challenged by Microsoft's X-Box in the gaming market, Barrett said. The PC market was unlikely to be seriously challenged by either of these devices.

Craig Barrett made an interesting statement about Sun Microsystems, when questioned about competition. It is apparent that firms like AMD and Via are not really viewed as serious threats, while Sun, he said was probably seen as a pure competitor. This is an undercurrent which has run under IDF for the last two days. We intend to return to this topic in a separate story later. ®

See Also

Pentium 4 to hit 2GHz next year

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