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Intel eases up in race to 10GHz

A casual observer at Intel's Developer Forum earlier this month might have thought the company that grew fat on the back of ever faster desktop PC chips was now more focused on mobile and server chips. In the company's client day presentation at the conference, discussion of desktops was largely restricted to home use, while Intel said its own executives' use of wireless laptops pointed the way for how businesses will use clients in the future.

The onset of Prescott, the next evolution of the P4 due next year, seems to illustrate this gentler approach to speed. Prescott will be built on a 90 nanometer manufacturing process and will feature an enhanced version of the Netburst core which is already at the heart of the Pentium 4. The Pentium 4 has leapfrogged up the speed ramp, from 1.4GHz at launch in the Fall of 2000, and will hit 3GHz by the end of this year. At the P4's launch, Intel put the lifespan of Netburst at up to seven years and said that if Moore's law held true, the company had the headroom to break the 10GHz mark by 2006.

The vendor has consistently said the Netburst architecture can scale up to 10GHz. However, Siu last week appeared to suggest that the drive to higher speeds will moderate in the coming years. Prescott will underpin the vendor's desktop line through 2004, he said. "I don't think Prescott will hit 10GHz in this iteration," he said. More significantly, perhaps, he described Netburst as having a ten year cycle, implying that Intel's race to the 10GHz mark will not be as break-neck as some may have expected.

"Our expectation is [the] mobile and transportable [sectors] will grow faster," Siu said. "Desktop will grow in numbers, maybe not in percentage."

News source: The Reg

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