Intel launched its 2GHz Pentium 4 yesterday, and all the major PC vendors are along for the ride.
Looking to jumpstart flagging PC sales, the company is officially unveiling the chip Monday at its Intel Developers Forum, which runs in the US this week. Dell, Compaq, Gateway, and Hewlett-Packard are among the vendors immediately shipping 2GHz systems. ATI is unveiling a new mobile graphics chip, and other vendors are announcing products that take advantage of Intel's latest power processor.
Intel reaches the 2GHz mark just 18 months after its Pentium III hit the 1GHz milestone following a well documented race it lost to Advanced Micro Devices by less than a week. This time, however, the competition is nowhere close: AMD's current fastest Athlon runs at just 1.4GHz, although exclusive Digit tests show systems with the two chips performing comparably.
Benchmarks aside, the significance of reaching 2GHz won't be lost on consumers, says Kevin Krewell, senior analyst with MicroDesign Resources.
"Reaching 2 GHz, that's a nice marker," he says. "It puts the P4 in a very competitive position."
PC vendors would seem to agree, as all of the majors are offering 2GHz P4 systems right out of the chute.
Gateway goes 2GHz
In conjunction with Intel's 2GHz launch, Gateway is rolling out its Performance 2000XL Digital Media PC in the US. The PC includes music, photo, and video-editing YourWare bundles as part of the package. Each bundle will take advantage of the 2GHz P4's processing power, says Randy Farwell, director of product marketing.
"The 2GHz P4 really pays off with video," he says. Trying to do video editing with an older, slower PC is much more time consuming, and the P4-based system makes it considerably more user friendly, he says.
Gateway's Performance 2000XL Digital Media PC sells for around £2,000. It includes 256MB of PC800 RDRAM, NVidia's GeForce3 graphics card with 64MB of DDR memory, an 80GB hard drive, a 16X/48X DVD drive, a 12X/8X/32X CD-RW drive, Boston Accoustics BA7500 speakers, a 15-inch LCD monitor, and the assorted YourWare bundles.
Gateway goes after more cost-conscious 2GHz fans with its £1,400 Performance 2000 PC. It offers a similar configuration, but lacks the YourWare packages and scales back to 128MB of PC800 RDRAM, a 64MB ATI graphics card, and a 19-inch monitor.
Dell, Compaq, HP join party
While most vendors are targeting PC enthusiasts with their first 2GHz systems, Dell is casting a wider net by offering the chip across its product line. The new processor finds its way into Dell's Precision workstations, OptiPlex corporate desktops, and Dimension home PCs.
Focusing on consumers, the Dimension 8100 with the 2GHz P4 includes 128MB of RDRAM, an NVidia GeForce GTS graphics card, a 100GB hard drive, 16X CD-ROM drive, Harmon/Kardon speakers, and a 19-inch monitor for around £1,700.
Over at Compaq, they're taking a different approach - by offering a 2GHz system at a remarkably low £1,000 price point. The Presario 7000T is available through the company's Web site, phone sales, and retail kiosks in the US. UK details are yet to be released. The system includes 128MB of PC800 RDRAM, a 20GB hard drive, a GeForce2 MX graphics card with 32MB of memory, a 48X CD-ROM drive, and a 17-inch monitor.
Users looking for a more robust 2GHz Presario can add the extras they want, says Stephen Schultis, manager of configure-to-order desktop marketing.
For example, users who want a better gaming experience can add the NVidia GeForce3 graphics card with 64MB of DDR memory for an extra £300. If you want an equally attractive - and less expensive - upgrade, move up to 256MB of RDRAM for just £100. That's a much better price for the additional memory than just a few months ago, he says.
Hewlett-Packard is also offering built-to-order 2GHz Pavilion systems through its Web site and retail kiosks.
More Gigahertz to come?
While Intel and PC vendors will undoubtedly play up the significance of reaching 2GHz, this milestone won't last, says MicroDesign's Krewell. Just as the 1GHz mark was doubled in 18 months, he expects a 3GHz chip to arrive within another year. After that, a 4GHz processor should hit by the second quarter of 2003.
As processor technology continues to improve, frequencies will rapidly advance, and landmark speeds will come and go quickly, he says. "Blink and you'll miss them."