Pentium 4 may miss sales targets

A prominent financial analyst predicts Intel will sell only 15 million of the chips this year

Pentium 4 will not hit Intel's sales targets for 2001 because of its reliance on Rambus memory, according to a leading industry analyst.

Jonathan Joseph, Salomon Smith Barney's managing director for semiconductor research, made the comments on Tuesday at a conference in Hong Kong. He said Intel had sold about 800,000 Pentium 4 units in the first quarter of 2001, according to a Blooomberg report.

Joseph predicted that Intel will sell about 15 million units of the flagship processor this year, 25 percent off its target of 20 million. He said the slow sales derive from the chip's reliance on Rambus Direct RAM (RDRAM), which is more expensive than industry-standard Synchronous Dynamic RAM (SDRAM). Pentium 4 was initially delayed because of problems relating to the RDRAM interface.

Later this year Intel will launch a chipset for Pentium 4, code-named Brookdale, that will allow it to use SDRAM. In the mean time, Rambus is preparing faster memories which it says will drive down the price of its present products.

Intel is looking to make Pentium 4 its mainstream processor this year, but claims its plans have been hampered by the economic slowdown in the US. Other analysts have predicted that the chip will only sell half of its target.

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