Intel Corporation confirmed this week that it would finally begin shipping its next-generation Pentium 4 processor on Monday, setting the stage for a product transition from the old P6/Pentium III line to the new architecture. Intel says that the Pentium 4 will become its mainstream processor by late 2001, a much more aggressive timetable than originally planned. The company says that it is on track to complete this transition, however, thanks to technological advancements in its chip-making processes and the rapid conversion of fabrication plants to the new chip. The Pentium 4 will debut at speeds of 1.4 and 1.5 GHz next week, and will hit 2 GHz by Q3 2001.
"I think you'll see very aggressive system prices \[for the Pentium 4\]," said Intel executive vice president Paul Otellini. "We've very happy with where they're starting, and they'll only come down." Intel will produce the Pentium 4 in volume at its launch, in contrast to the supply problems the company had with high-end Pentium III releases earlier this year.
Major PC makers such as Dell, Compaq, NEC, Gateway, HP, IBM, and Micron have all promised to release systems based on the new chip sometime next week, Intel says. Initial products will support RAMBUS RDRAM memory, but Intel plans to release an SDRAM-based chipset next year and, possibly, help third parties to create P4-compatible chipsets in an effort to speed the conversion. But chipset manufacturers such as Via Technologies have already pledged to release Pentium 4 chipsets in the coming days