From the WSJ:
Intel Gives Up on Plan
To Set Speed Milestone
Chip Maker Won't Offer
Pentium 4 at 4 Gigahertz,
Focuses on Cache Memory
By DON CLARK
Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
October 15, 2004; Page B8
Intel Corp. is scrapping plans to hit a high-profile performance milestone for its flagship microprocessor, the latest in a series of course changes and miscues by the big chip maker.
The company said it no longer plans to offer its Pentium 4 chip for desktop computers at a clock speed of four gigahertz, a target that had already slipped from the end of this year until sometime in 2005. The fastest member of that chip family is now 3.6 gigahertz.
Chuck Mulloy, an Intel spokesman, attributed the decision to a desire to focus resources on other goals. Instead of boosting the clock speed on the Pentium 4 line, Intel plans to speed up the product line by boosting the size of built-in data-storage capacity on the chip -- known as cache memory -- to two megabits from one megabit.
Intel will also shift engineering resources to focus on introducing new technologies to its product line, including putting the equivalent of multiple processors on a single chip, Mr. Mulloy said.
The chips affected by the schedule change are known by the code name Prescott, and are Intel's first products for desktop PCs to be manufactured using a process that creates circuits with dimensions of 90 nanometers -- or billionths of a meter -- down from 130 nanometers for earlier chips. Such changes in manufacturing generations have allowed companies to lower production cost and power consumption, while boosting a chip's clock speed -- a contributor to computing performance that is sometimes compared to revolutions per minute of a car's engine.
This time, however, Intel has had trouble making continued improvements in clock speed. Paul Otellini, Intel's president and chief operating officer, discussed in May hitting the four gigahertz goal by the end of the year, but in July the company said it would not be able to meet that target.
Mr. Otellini has been increasingly vocal about prodding the company to move "beyond gigahertz," and use other techniques to increase performance. One of the most important targets is the introduction next year of "multi-core" products, which put the equivalent of two or more processors on a single chip.
The increased urgency is partly because Intel's Prescott design consumes more power than prior models, despite the move to 90-nanometer technology. The Pentium 4 operating at 3.6 gigahertz draws up to 115 watts, compared with 84 watts for models operating at 3.2 gigahertz and below.
Rick Whittington, an analyst at Caris & Co., said Intel needs to move quickly to counter competition from Advanced Micro Devices Inc., whose Athlon 64 chips have been gaining ground on Intel in the high end of the PC market. "I think Intel fundamentally understands they have an image issue" because of the perception of AMD's technology leadership, he said.
Intel already has added two megabits of cache memory on "extreme edition" models of its desktop chips for gamers, and its Xeon line of chips for servers. The first of the new two-megabit Pentium 4 chips will be available in the first quarter of 2005, and operate at 3.8 gigahertz, Mr. Mulloy said.
The latest change, he said, puts "an exclamation point" on the company's strategy of de-emphasizing clock speed. "It's a tough decision," Mr. Mulloy said. "But at the end of the day, it's the right decision."