Obviously Intel's hopes to regain the performance crown are all focused on the upcoming Pentium 4 processor. This completely new design, also known under the code name 'Willamette', will enable much higher clock speeds, starting at 1.4 and 1.5 GHz by the time of its release. Take those high frequencies with a grain of salt though, since it seems rather obvious right now that Pentium 4 will be slower than its predecessor Pentium III in a clock-for-clock comparison using common software. This is not necessarily a problem, since Pentium 4 can obviously afford to be a bit slower clock-for-clock, because it won't be released in clock speeds of less than 1.4 GHz, which is already 40% higher than the fastest Pentium III processor that's available right now.
A look at the roadmap makes it even more obvious that Pentium 4 will most definitely stay way ahead of Pentium III, since Intel is planning Pentium 4 processors at 1.7 GHz or more for Q1/2001 already and Q2/2001 is supposed to be the time when the first 2 GHz Pentium 4 will see the light of the world .
Intel's aggressive Pentium 4 forecast seems to be a strong sign that the production of Pentium 4 is running very well. Intel wants to force its way back to being the performance as well as the market leader in the x86-market and AMD will have quite a tough time to compete with 2 GHz Pentium 4 processors in terms of performance.
The story might be very different looking at future Pentium 4 sales vs. future Athlon sales. While AMD, Ali, VIA and even Micron will soon supply Athlon-platforms that support the highly-anticipated DDR-SDRAM memory, Intel has based its Pentium 4 chipset i850 entirely on Rambus' highly-unpopular RDRAM memory. Market analyzes show clearly that a huge number of OEMs and the vast majority of consumers are avoiding the overprized and overhyped RDRAM memory like the plague. Unless Intel should change its chipset plans very quickly there won't be too much acceptance of Pentium 4 in the market. I will discuss the chipset issue in detail a bit further down in this article.
Will Pentium III soon be dead? How could it? It's the most successful microprocessor and as the market won't welcome Pentium 4 and its RDRAM-platform Intel will continue to make most of its sales with this very processor. The only problem that Intel is facing right now is the fact that it is impossible to get the current Coppermine-core to any higher speed than 1 GHz reliably. Although it may sound crazy, we all will have to face the fact that 1 GHz will soon be a rather pathetic processor speed and thus Intel is working hard on improving the current Coppermine-Pentium III to get it across the 1 GHz barrier.
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