Intel To Unveil Pentium 4 Chip

Chip titan Intel Corp. will unveil two new lines of microprocessors this week, including the Pentium 4, the first major upgrade of the Pentium chip since 1995.

Intel officials will provide details of the new technology at the Intel Developers Forum, which starts Tuesday in San Jose, California.

Faster and Better

Intel’s status as the world’s preeminent chip maker has dimmed recently, in part due to manufacturing glitches that resulted in chip shortages, and a strong challenge from Advanced Micro Devices (AMD).

Intel and AMD have been trading blows in the microprocessor industry, with both companies offering chips that can run at speeds faster than 1 GHz. While AMD’s Athlon has been considered more powerful, Intel officials claim to have trumped it with the Pentium 4.

The first generation of the new Intel chip will debut at a speed of 1.4 GHz, though Intel officials say it is capable of much higher speeds. The fastest Pentium 3 chips ran at 1.13 MHz.

The 32-bit chip features new technology called “NetBurst,” designed to handle such multimedia applications as peer-to-peer networking, streaming video, voice recognition, 3D graphics, and imaging and data encryption.

Bus Speed

The Pentium 4, slated for release later this year, will be equipped to handle data much faster than its predecessor. Its “bus,” the primary communications corridor that relays information from the processor to other parts of the system, is three times faster than the old Pentium chip and twice as fast as the Athlon, Intel officials say.

The new chip’s bus sports a 400 MHz system, compared to 133 MHz on the Pentium 3. Also, the new chip contains 42 million transistors, compared to 28 million for the Pentium 3.

“This is the micro-architecture that will drive Intel’s performance leadership for the next few years,” said Doug Carmean, principal architect of the new chip, in published reports.

Low-Power Chip

Intel also plans to unveil its next-generation “StrongArm” chip, a low-power consumption chip that the company hopes will enable it to break into the market for hand-held devices, third-generation cellular phones and other Internet-enabled devices. Intel bought the technology from another company, but has been slow to exploit it, analysts say.

In addition, Intel will reveal some pilot systems for its long-delayed 64-bit chip, which is aimed at the workstation and high-end servers. The chip is due out sometime next year.

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