Intel launches 2GHz Pentium 4

Intel has rolled out its most powerful Pentium 4 PC chip to date, just as chipset manufacturer Acer Labs unveils a new SDRAM...

Intel has rolled out its most powerful Pentium 4 PC chip to date, just as chipset manufacturer Acer Labs unveils a new SDRAM chipset that will help make the processor more accessible to the budget user.

Leading PC vendors such as Dell, Compaq and Gateway are to introduce PCs modelled on the new Pentium 4, which Intel claims can run 81% faster than a 1GHz Pentium III chip.

Intel chiefs are now saying that the PIII will be "obsolete" on the PC by the end of the year and are using aggressive price cuts to ensure the P4 rapidly displaces the older PIII. The company is also phasing out its slowest P4 processor.

The introduction of SDRAM chipsets for the P4 will help the diffusion of the new chip by allowing the processor to be used without the more expensive Rambus DRAM chipset.

Acer's new chipset joins a similar product from Via, with Intel is expected to introduce its own SDRAM chipset for the Pentium 4 early next year.

Louis Burns, vice-president and general manager of Intel's desktop platforms group, said, "While innovation can sometimes be hard to predict, it is critical for our industry to drive forward-looking platform architectures that enable new capabilities. The Pentium 4 processor is an example."

However, despite Intel's determination to drive uptake of the new chip it is not yet clear whether such power is actually needed in the PC.

Few applications are able to exploit the difference between AMD's most powerful desktop processor at 1.4GHz and the 2GHz Pentium 4, although the introduction of Windows XP could boost demand for higher-performance machines.

AMD has responded to the introduction of the new, cheaper, more powerful Pentium 4 chips by once again slashing prices across its range of processors.

It has almost halved the list price of its Athlon desktop chips, which range in speed from 1GHz to 1.4GHz, following Intel's announcement on Monday of 54% price cuts on P4 processors.

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