The Pentium 4: Will it save the industry?


Debra Vogler

Technical Editor WaferNews

It’s impossible to be a dispassionate observer when attending the Intel Developer Forum. You’re either a believer or a skeptic. Intel seems to be on a quest for the Holy Grail of computing: developing multiple “right” combinations that give people what they want. A man-on-the-street video preceding executive VP/GM, Intel Architecture Group, Paul Otellini’s key note address gave voice to what Intel believes the world is waiting to buy: computing power that allows for voice recognition, longer battery life, improved game graphics, faster rendering, faster to market with wireless capability and easier-to-use.

Intel calls the end result proactive computing. The company believes that its Pentium 4 processor enables fundamental changes in the way people interact with computers and this ability is what will drive sales. At the core of this belief is the 2Ghz speed of the Pentium 4. Intel believes that people will want to use the computer for so many more applications than they do now simply because it will be a pleasure to not have the long waiting times most users currently experience. “The Pentium 4 system reacts so much faster … it’s a more natural way to interact with a system,” said Louis Burns, VP of Intel’s Architecture Group.

In his keynote address, David Tennenhouse, VP and director of research at Intel, emphasized the company’s vision that proactive computing will mean computers anticipate what humans want and act on our behalf rather than wait to be told what to do.

Intel’s marketing folks must be true believers because, according to Burns, the company is accelerating its roadmap including everything from pricing to engineering schedules and manufacturing and noted that the Pentium 4 at 2GHz is shipping in volume around the world. During a question and answer session he indicated that Intel was very pleased with Pentium 4 yields and production levels and stated that the company was ahead on every engineering schedule with the product. Burns also stated that, “The Pentium 4 is the fastest processor on the planet and it will get faster and faster and stay faster than anything on the planet.”

The semiconductor equipment industry should hope that proactive computing wriggles cash from consumers’ pocketbooks. That might spark a turnaround in lagging markets.


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