Intel will announce the release of its 2Ghz Pentium 4 processor at its developers' forum in San Jose next week.
The speed means that two billion electrical pulses move through the chip each second, but analysts have said that it is difficult to imagine a general office application that requires anywhere near that kind of horsepower. The top Pentium now reaches 1.8Ghz.
Rob Enderle, an analyst at Giga Information Group, believed that the new processor would help Intel a great deal in its battle with Advanced Micro Devices. "AMD is not ready to have a 2Ghz chip of its own any time soon," he said. "Suddenly Intel is executing again."
But he pointed out that the market is still not buying chips just on performance. "While this will help with AMD, it won't necessarily drive people back into the stores," he said.
Intel has cut the cost of its processors by close to 70 per cent in an attempt to assist users of both the high-end PCs and the low-end, less expensive systems to purchase the latest processors. The company introduced the 1.7Ghz Pentium 4 processor in April at a cost of $352. A year ago, 1Ghz chips alone cost $1300.
Officials said they are optimistic that next-generation applications like real-time voice and video streaming will boost demand for high-end systems.
Meanwhile, rival AMD said it would reach the 2Ghz mark next year with its 64-bit Clawhammer chip.
The company recently gave its Athlon 4 and Duron chips a performance boost with the announcement of a 1.1Ghz Athlon 4 and a 900Mhz Duron, both for notebook PCs. A 1.4Ghz Athlon processor is currently AMD's fastest chip.
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