Surprise... it's another Pentium

Intel names Pentium III's successor. Say hello to Pentium 4

Intel has finally named its next-generation processor, and surprise -- it's another Pentium.

The chip, code-named Willamette, will be known to consumers as Pentium 4 and is set for launch some time before the end of the year.

The company said it made the decision to stick with the Pentium label because of its strong brand, and plans to integrate Pentium 4 into the famous "Intel Inside" marketing campaign. "Computer users will be able to instantly recognise the Pentium 4 processor as Intel's newest high-performance microprocessor," said Pam Pollace, vice president, Intel Sales and Marketing Group, in a statement.

Pentium 4, the first major overhaul of the Pentium core technology since 1995, will debut at 1.4GHz, but sources said Intel may also offer a 1.3GHz version. The chips should begin to appear in the fourth quarter.

Intel currently offers a 1GHz version of its Pentium III, but does not expect the chip to be available in full production volumes until the third quarter.

Pentium 4 is specially designed to achieve high clock speeds, and will go up against the Mustang chip from Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) when the clock-speed horse-race starts up again in the autumn. AMD and Intel both released 1GHz chips at around the same time earlier this year, but AMD began shipping the 1GHz Athlon immediately, while Intel is continuing to suffer from supply shortages across all its top-speed Pentiums.

Pentium 4 could be Intel's last 32-bit chip, the basic platform for Windows-based PCs for several years. Coming up later this year is Itanium, built on the 64-bit IA-64 platform.

Willamette will transition from 0.18-micron to a 0.13-micron process next year, a move which will reduce power consumption and allow Intel to use the chip for mobile computers.

Intel is likely to continue shipping Pentium III along with Pentium 4, as the older chip will be much cheaper at first. Pentium 4 may not be immediately adopted by corporate buyers.

Pentium III could ratchet up one or two notches above 1GHz, probably to the 1066MHz and 1133MHz speeds, according to industry analysts.

John Spooner contributed to this report.

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