Intel stays ahead of the competition by adding features to all of its processor range every quarter which makes it difficult for rivals to keep up, according to analysts.
Kevin Krewell, an analyst at MicroDesign Resources, said Intel's seventh-generation processor core, the P7 Willamette or Pentium 4, adds new features, such as execution trace cache and hyper pipelined for high clock speed, which allows the chip to process multimedia in parallel and speed performance. It currently runs at 1.4Ghz and Intel is promising a 2Ghz version for third quarter of 2001.
He said consumers such as gaming enthusiasts could be early adopters of Pentium 4 but companies would probably stick with Pentium III processors until prices come down.
MicroDesign believes Pentium 4 production quantities this quarter are fewer than one million units and that the processor's volume is expected to cross over with those of Pentium III in the first quarter of 2001. That is when Pentium 4 is expected to migrate to 0.13-micron technology. Intel plans to introduce its post-Willamette processor, Northwood with larger cache in late 2001 or early 2002.
On the server side, prototype shipments of Intel's first IA-64 Itanium processor have been sent to about 1000 testers, according to Krewell. "So far the response has been in the middle, with no one saying it's great and no one saying it sucks."
But Krewell believes that the architecture would shine late next year when the second-generation IA-64 processor, codenamed McKinley, hits the market. "Then we'll know whether IA was a good idea or not."
Merced will be a niche product but Foster, a version of Pentium 4 with larger L3 cache scheduled for the second quarter of next year, will dominate the workstation and server market.
Krewell pointed out that Intel dedicates about 50 per cent of its research and development dollars to expanding its position in the server market. "Intel has also been purchasing companies at a Cisco-like rate and we expect more purchases in 2001," he said.
Meanwhile Madison, which is due in mid-2002, will displace 0.13-micron Foster from the server market and Deerfield, a lower-cost version of Madison, will displace 0.13-Foster from workstations. "Most workstations and servers could shift to IA-64 as early as 2003," Krewell said.
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