Intel Shifts Focus From 4GHz P4 To Dual-Core Processors

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based chip giant will reassign resources allocated for a 4GHz launch into other critical areas, including its rollout next year of dual-core processors and its complex lineup of chipsets and other system building blocks, executives said.

Jeff Austin, a platform marketing manager for Intel, suggested the change in focus to other benchmarks and platform-level functions from clock speed will also change each product's value proposition.

"Certainly, there are whole numbers of vectors we'll add into the value that can be delivered on the platform," Austin said. "Historically, megahertz or gigahertz have been one of the main vectors. But stuff like dual core, like the larger cache [sizes], like LaGrande and Vanderpool--all those things come into play."

The move is the second--and final--shot for the 4GHz chip. Earlier this year, Intel said it would delay a planned late-2004 rollout of the high-clock-speed Pentium 4 processors due to a series of inventory, market and internal execution issues. At about the same time, Intel President Paul Otellini began discussing more widely his vision of Intel as a plat- form company rather than a chip company.

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The platform-level approach has already led to Intel's highly successful Centrino mobile product line, which combines a mobile processor, chipset and extended battery life in one box.

Austin said he did not believe there would be additional levels of complexity brought to bear on the channel and its customers because of the change in focus, other than the potential for new pricing schemes and the way system strengths are measured and compared. Some in the channel, though, realized quickly it could change some of their conversations with customers.

"I'm concerned in the sense that it's something else we need to ramp up on--how [to] explain this approach to customers," said Keith Josephson, CTO for Ion Computer Systems, a Hauppauge, N.Y.-based system builder and solution provider. "There haven't been a whole lot of choices [to evaluate processors]. It's been megahertz and cache size."