January 18, 2001, 10:47 AM — IN AN UPBEAT presentation to financial analysts Wednesday, senior Intel executives outlined the company's plans for the next year. The forthcoming Pentium 4 desktop processor is expected to hit the 2GHz mark by the third quarter of next year, and the executives also pointed to growing opportunities in the burgeoning cellular phone market.
The Pentium 4, which is based on Intel's first new chip architecture in five years, is expected to debut in a few weeks at a clock speed of "1.4GHz and above," said Paul Otellini, executive vice president and general manager of the Intel Architecture Group.
While the new chip will debut only in more costly, high-performance PCs, Otellini said he expects the Pentium 4 to reach all segments of the mainstream PC market by the end of next year. That means users should be able to get their hands on a Pentium 4 system for as little as $1,500 before the end of 2001.
Regarding the widely watched issue of memory support for the new processor, Intel will offer only one chip set with the Pentium 4 for the bulk of the next year, and as expected that chip set will support RDRAM (Rambus dynamic RAM), the high-speed memory interface technology designed by Rambus, Otellini said.
In late 2001, as it ships higher volumes of the Pentium 4 into lower price segments, Intel will introduce a new chip set that supports the widely used SDRAM (synchronous dynamic RAM) as well as the emerging DDR (double data rate) SDRAM as that technology becomes mainstream, Otellini said.
Rival PC processor vendor Advanced Micro Devices Inc. on Monday introduced a new chip set that allows its high-end Athlon chips to be paired with DDR SDRAM.
Compared to the fastest Pentium III, which runs at 1GHz today, the Pentium 4 will offer a performance boost of up to 25 percent in MP3 audio encoding, 50 percent in video encoding, and 44 percent in video games such as Quake III, Otellini said.
The Pentium III will be around in desktop systems for some time yet, however. Otellini said the "crossover point" when the company sells more Pentium 4s than Pentium IIIs isn't likely to happen until early 2002, a schedule Intel will work hard to accelerate.
Otellini made his remarks during Intel's twice-yearly meeting with financial analysts, which was broadcast over the Web. Intel's top brass were upbeat overall about the company's performance, despite problems during the past few months that included an embarrassing recall of its 1.13GHz desktop Pentium III processor and sluggish sales in Europe.
Intel's priorities moving forward are growing revenue and profit and improving "operational excellence," said Craig Barrett, Intel's president and chief executive officer.