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Friday, July 30, 2004
Intel delays 4GHz chip until next year


Intel won't ship a 4GHz version of the Pentium 4 until the first quarter of 2005, the latest in a series of delays for the chipmaking giant.

Product plans that the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company released to PC makers on Thursday stated that the 4GHz chip, originally slated for the fourth quarter, won't appear until the first quarter of next year. Company spokesman Howard High said the delay will help ensure that the company can deliver an adequate number of chips when the product is launched.

"We are trying to make sure that we improve our execution," High said.

Product glitches and delays have become a persistent problem for Intel in 2004. The problem prompted company CEO Craig Barrett to issue an e-mail to employees warning of the urgent need to tighten manufacturing and operations at Intel.

Prescott and Dothan, the company's current flagship desktop and notebook processors, came to market after delays. Intel also had to recall some Grantsdale chipsets that make it easy to use a PC as an entertainment center.

More recently, a version of the same chipset for notebooks, code-named Alviso, was delayed until the first quarter of 2005. The company also has had sporadic problems in delivering adequate volumes of some of its latest chips at the time of release.

Manufacturing slips are a serious concern for Intel. Several analysts and executives, including Les Vadasz, the company's fourth employee and one of the major figures in its history, have said that Intel has become a giant because of its production prowess. Barrett himself rose through the ranks as a manufacturing and material science expert. A series of manufacturing glitches in 1999 allowed Advanced Micro Devices to gain market share.

The ability to boost chip speeds is also important in the market share war, as it give manufacturers the ability to cut the price of existing chips. Chip speed, measured in megahertz, is not as accurate as a measure of overall performance as it was in earlier years. Manufacturers also emphasize it less in sales pitches. Still, faster speeds do add performance.

Microsoft, the other half of the Wintel alliance, earlier this week said that it had to delay the 64-bit version of Windows XP.

On a brighter note, High also said Intel is beefing up future chips with larger caches and faster buses. Dual-core chips also remain on track for next year.

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