Intel's new Pentium II could be out of date by April this year, according to a leading UK IT consultant. This startling prediction, from Livingston Rental's business development consultant Barry Watts, follows an audit by the firm revealing that the life expectancy of IT hardware has dropped sharply over the past three years. According to Livingston, the life span of IT products has dropped by six months over the past three years, making standard IT hardware obsolescent faster. If trends continue, by 2000 IT hardware will be obsolete within six months, the company claimed. From Livingston's own statistics on computer rentals, in 1994 the average usable life span of a product was 17 months. At the end of 1997, it had fallen to 11 months, according to the company's figures. Given the research's implications, claimed Watts, "the 300MHz Pentium II will be out of date by April". This processor only started shipping last November. "People will still be buying the 300 (Pentium II) but the processor will start looking old as Intel brings out newer chips," Watts continued. In reply to Livingston's predictions, Intel said that the Pentium II 300MHz is expected to remain on its roadmap for the whole of 1998, but will move from its current position at the high end to the mainstream as the company introduces new processors and lowers the price of existing chips. As for the current specification of PCs that Livingston's customers are demanding, Watts said that the standard desktop configuration is 32Mb RAM and 4Gb to 8Gb hard disk. "These are crazy disk sizes that most people would never use," he remarked. Watts added that the price differential between leading edge workstations and standard machines is such that people are going for the highest specification possible. Another area of activity where Livingston foresees a faster pace of obsolescence is the handheld computers market. "In two to three years time these will become throw-away items," said Watts. "They will be given away by high street banks when you open a new account."
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