Intel has released four processors based on its 90-nanometer Prescott core, the first major revision to its Pentium 4 processor in two years.
The chips are also Intel’s first 90-nanometer products to hit the market.
The new processors arrived at 3.4GHz, 3.2GHz, 3GHz, and 2.8GHz, speeds that overlap existing Pentium 4 processors.
Prescott’s smaller chip size also allows Intel to cut more chips from a silicon wafer, reducing manufacturing costs per chip.
Most of the major PC companies - including Dell, Hewlett-Packard, and Sony - will have models available with the latest chips. Prescott is suited for both business and consumer PCs, but contains 13 new instructions that help improve the performance of multimedia applications such as video.
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Intel envisions Prescott as the centrepiece of the digital home, powering PCs such as the entertainment PC concept Intel unveiled at the recent Consumer Electronics Show.
Other changes that come with Prescott include more Level 2 cache. Prescott has 1Mbyte of cache, up from the 512Kbytes found in the Northwood Pentium 4 chips.
Intel aims to bring Prescott to 4GHz by the end of the year, and is expected to discuss the next desktop processor on its roadmap, codenamed Tejas.
The company will demonstrate a processor with 64-bit extensions at its Spring Intel Developer Forum in two weeks' time, and analysts speculated that Tejas might be the first processor to incorporate those extensions.
There is also speculation among analysts and industry watchers that Prescott contains 64-bit extensions that have been disabled because software support has yet to arrive. Intel used a similar strategy when it introduced hyperthreading into the desktop world.
Tom Krazit writes for IDG News Service