Pentium 4 production rockets

Preparing to increase production of the Pentium 4 to meet expected demand in the fourth quarter, chip leviathan Intel is...

Preparing to increase production of the Pentium 4 to meet expected demand in the fourth quarter, chip leviathan Intel is positioning the product at the “centre of the digital universe”.

Tom Kilroy, vice president of Intel’s reseller channel operation, told MicroScope it was in the midst of the “fastest” rise in production ever and was preparing to launch a $400m (£266.7m) advertising campaign in Europe imminently.

He added it expected sales of Pentium 4 processors to overtake its older family member, the Pentium III, by the last quarter of this year.

The debate concerning the death of the PC — which has been tearing through the industry during the last few years — was now facing “reality”, argued Kilroy.

The advent of digital cameras, PDAs and MP3 players which all plug into a PC, coupled with the need for optimisation when using the Internet, had reinforced the importance of PC products: “The PC is no longer seen as just a standalone device.”

He reasoned the “capability and power” required by users was far greater than before, which helped generate the need for more powerful processors.

As well as taking the product to the consumer market, the vendor insisted the channel would also lead the way in targeting the SME arena.

“The SME sector today is more discriminating and is looking at what it will need in a couple of years, so it is common for the sector to adopt technology early,” said Kilroy.

But Intel does not expect the corporate sector to be included in the first wave of adopters because of budgetary constraints.

From a channel standpoint, Kilroy confirmed it was realigning its programme with the Pentium 4: “We take channel incentives and line up with new products to get everything synchronised.”

But sending a cautionary message to the channel, Intel suggested those that could move first and fastest would benefit most from the technology migration.

Confirming it was counting “significantly” on the success of the processor following last year’s inability to meet demand, Kilroy conceded: “Proof will be in the execution.” The expected third quarter release of an Intel chipset code named Brookwood, would prompt third-party motherboard manufacturers to support both the Pentium 4 as well as standard memory, said Les Billing, managing director at Microtronica.

As a result, he believed the price differential compared to a Pentium III would decrease and become more attractive to customers because of the higher performance of the product. But Billing warned: “Should the lower cost motherboard and standard memory product not materialise, there will be a delay in the mass-market take up of Pentium 4.”

Sukh Rayat, Avnet’s vice president and managing director of applied computing components in Europe, agreed sales of Pentium 4 could overtake the previous processor, but argued infrastructure costs would have to be driven down first.

Claiming the vendor was being a little conservative in its predictions, Stuart Green, strategy director at Centreprise, argued that sales of Pentium 4 would leapfrog Pentium III earlier than the fourth quarter.

“People are already considering the Pentium 4 as an alternative today and sales are rapidly increasing,” he maintained.

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