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Intel shelves plans for 4GHz P4

Company breaks promise of speedier chip and focuses on dual core

Intel has confirmed its near-term plans for its desktop processors before it reaches the multicore era. The company will not release a 4GHz version of its flagship Pentium 4 product, having decided instead to realign its engineers around the company's new design priorities.

The past year has been marked by tectonic shifts in Intel's design and marketing philosophies. After years of promoting clock speed as the most important indicator of processor performance, Intel now believes that introducing multicore products and new silicon features, collectively known as the "Ts", are the best ways to improve processor performance.

The company has made the tough decision to break Intel President and COO Paul Otellini's promise to release a 4-GHz Pentium 4 product, and will move engineers working on that product to other projects, says Bill Kircos, an Intel spokesperson.

Earlier this year, Intel delayed the arrival of the 4GHz Pentium 4 until the first quarter of 2005. At a financial analyst meeting in November of 2003, Otellini promised to have that product out by the end of 2004, but much has changed at Intel since then.

Since that November meeting, Intel confirmed it will introduce a faster front-side bus in its Pentium 4 Extreme Edition chips, which will top out at 3.73GHz, as expected. Starting next year, the company will add an additional 1MB of cache memory to its Pentium 4 chips based on the Prescott 90 nanometer core, and cap the clock speed of that product at 3.8GHz, Kircos says.

Intel has re-evaluated many product decisions this year after CEO Craig Barrett wrote a memo chastising the company for its string of product delays and manufacturing glitches earlier this year. The memo called for Intel to focus on products that can be delivered on time and without incident, and the decision to forgo the 4GHz chip seems linked to that emerging mindset.

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