Intel demos Pentium 4

Intel cranked a Pentium 4 processor up to 2GHz in a technology demonstration designed to show off the prowess of its forthcoming desktop PC chip.

The Pentium 4, due in PCs in the fourth quarter, is based on an entirely new chip design - or microarchitecture - that was designed from the ground up for computing on the Internet, Albert Yu, senior vice president in charge of Intel's microprocessor products group, said at the start of the company's developer conference here.

Called NetBurst, the architecture was designed from scratch for running multimedia applications, such as streaming audio and video, as well as for crunching the kind of algorithms used to encrypt data sent securely over the Web.

"The Pentium 4 processor will be the fastest desktop platform in the world," Yu promised an audience of software and hardware developers assembled at the forum. "This is a brand new microarchitecture . . . this was done with a blank piece of paper."

Intel has said it plans to introduce the Pentium 4 at 1.4GHz or higher. It showed a prototype PC here that sported a 1.5GHz processor, followed by the technology demonstration, in which a Pentium 4 was ratcheted up to 2002MHz, or slightly over 2GHz.

The demonstration appeared to be designed to show just how much clock speed Intel may be able to squeeze out of its new chip design. The chip was not cooled by any artificial cooling equipment, Craig Barrett, Intel's chief executive officer, said at the press conference after Yu's keynote address. He wouldn't be drawn about when Intel might ship a 2GHz chip commercially.

Other features that should boost the performance of the Pentium 4 include a 400MHz system bus, which is about three times faster than the bus on the Pentium III.

At the core of the chip is what Intel calls a Rapid Execution Engine, an enhancement that allows the core of the processor to operate at twice the frequency than the rest of the chip, Yu said.

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