3.8GHz Pentium last of the speed breed

As expected, Intel introduced a 3.8GHz Pentium 4 processor yesterday in what could represent the end of an era for the chip...

As expected, Intel introduced a 3.8GHz Pentium 4 processor yesterday in what could represent the end of an era for the chip maker.

The 3.8GHz Pentium 4 570 processor will have the fastest clock speed of any processor available from Intel. The company has cancelled a planned 4GHz Pentium 4 chip and will improve the performance of its desktop chips by adding cache memory.

Intel originally designed the Pentium 4 to run at ever faster clock speeds. For years the company planned its marketing campaigns around those increases in clock speed. But Intel has now realised that it can put to better use the engineering resources required to eke out speed gains. The most recent Pentium 4s consume a great deal of power and generate a great deal of heat within a PC, requiring additional testing and validation before they can be released.

Last month the company said that adding cache memory to processors was a cooler and easier way to improve processor performance. Cache memory stores frequently used data close to the processor where it can be accessed much faster than data stored in the main memory chips. Starting in early 2005, Intel's Pentium 4 chips will get an additional 1Mbyte of cache memory, bringing the total to 2Mbytes.

Scheduled to arrive in the second half of 2005 are Intel's dual-core processors. They will run at slower clock speeds than existing single-core processors. Analysts believe that Intel might keep a low-end single-core processor in its line-up heading into 2006 and bring that chip above 4GHz at some point in the future, but Intel has not confirmed any plans to release faster chips.

The Pentium 4 570 processor will be available in Hewlett-Packard's Compaq X 5010T Gaming PC from tomorrow. Dell also plans to offer the processor in its Dimension XPS gaming PC.

Tom Krazit writes for IDG News Service

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