As Digit predicted, Intel has announced that its 1GHz Pentium III is available - two days after rival Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) said that it is shipping its 1GHz Athlon processor.
Intel is touting its new processor as the "world's highest performance microprocessor for PCs." The 1GHz processor is available in limited quantities. It is expected to be offered in high-end PCs aimed at applications such as digital photography, music, video editing and games.
Also as expected, computer makers today announced PCs with the new processor.
Hewlett-Packard Co.'s Pavilion 1G PC is expected to be available next week in the US. Dell said that it will ship its Special Edition Dell Dimension desktop, although the company didn't specify when shipments would begin.
Intel's 1GHz Pentium III is the outcome of better-than-expected results from its .18-micron production process, according to Nathan Brookwood, principal analyst at research firm Insight 64 in Saratoga, California.
"Fundamentally, and I have this on very good authority from Intel, this 1GHz chip is the exact same chip that Intel is shipping at speeds of 733 (MHz) and 800MHz," he said, adding that not every chip that comes out of the same production lot runs at the same speed and Intel has been setting aside those chips reliably operating at 1GHz and now is beginning to sell them at a premium.
Intel has said it will ship in high volume in the third quarter, while rival AMD intends to ship its 1GHz chip sooner, Brookwood noted. However, the market will remain somewhat limited.
"The people who will buy a 1GHz processor at this point, when it is still a specialty kind of item, are people who either have a compelling need for speed, so that what they're doing is so important that any small gain in processing speed is handsomely rewarded, or people who want bragging rights," Brookwood said.
Those who need the performance include digital content creators, CADD (computer-aided drafting and design) users and financial analysts providing real-time analyses for whom boosted processor speed "can be worth thousands, if not millions, of dollars ... so they will pay any price." Gamers are most likely to be seeking bragging rights.
Intel already is showing off prototype systems for a processor running at 1.5GHz, expected to be part of its next, and probably final, generation of 32-bit processor architecture code-named Willamette. Intel trotted out the prototype at its developer conference in California last month and at the CeBIT trade show in Hanover, Germany.
Although declining to put a more exact date on when such speedy Willamette-powered systems will hit the market, a senior Intel executive at CeBIT said it could happen faster than most people expect.
"The fact that we are able to show this stuff here is pretty significant," said Mike Fister, vice president at Intel and general manager of the company's enterprise server group.
While in recent years Intel often has taken about a year to get its fastest prototype chips out on the market, the Willamette might appear in 1.5GHz iteration faster than that -- or run at an even faster clock speed by this time next year, Fister said, speaking to reporters after his presentation at CeBIT.
Also due from Intel by mid-year is the Itanium, its first 64-bit processor family. However, Fister said that the first Itaniums will operate at 733MHz and 800MHz.