NEW YORK (CNNfn) - Intel Corp. is set to release details about its next generation microprocessor for PC desktops and a new line of chips for mobile phones and handheld devices at a conference that begins Tuesday in San Jose, Calif.|
The new desktop microprocessor, called the Pentium 4, is scheduled to debut in the fourth quarter with a speed of 1.4 GHz. It will contain 42 million transistors, versus the 28 million in the current Pentium III.
The Pentium 4, previously code-named Willamette, will be built around a new architecture called "NetBurst" designed to handle applications that have become popular because of the Internet, such as imaging, streaming video, speech recognition, and multimedia. The last time that Intel made a significant change to the architecture of its microprocessors was when it introduced the Pentium Pro in 1995.
Intel's new microprocessor comes as the company is facing increasing competition from its rival AMD (AMD: Research, Estimates). The popularity of AMD's Athlon and Duron processors has made the company a more serious competitor to the much larger Intel than it was in the past. The Athlon and Duron sold a combined 1.8 million units in the second quarter, a 52 percent increase from the first quarter. AMD aims to sell 3.6 million units within the two chip lines in the third quarter.
To help signal the shift to a new technology, Intel didn't use a Roman numeral to describe the new Pentium and it came up with a new "Intel Inside" logo for the Pentium 4.
Intel said it will continue to produce the Pentium III and its value-priced Celeron processors for all next year. Currently, the fastest Pentium III operates at 1.13 GHz and sells for $990. The company's cheapest Celeron, by contrast, sells for less than $100. Intel hasn't yet announced pricing for the Pentium 4.
To speed its overall performance, the Pentium 4 comes with a 400 MHz system bus, up from 133 MHz for the Pentium III. The system bus is a pathway between the memory controller and the central processing unit. For some applications, system bus speed, rather than processor speed, can be the main bottleneck.
Separately, the chip giant will describe on Tuesday a new line of its StrongArm chips for handheld devices, such as a Palm, and mobile phones. These chips are designed to be small and energy-efficient, in keeping with the size and battery-power limitations of the devices that use them.
Intel's stock rose 2-15/16 to 73-1/2 in Monday afternoon trading after Lehman Brothers analyst Daniel Niles increased his earnings estimate for fiscal 2000 to $1.74 per share from $1.70 and his 2001 estimate to $1.90 from $1.85.
"Intel's 75 percent increase in capital spending to $6 billion in 2000 is finally paying dividends," Niles wrote in a research report issued Monday. "We believe that Intel now has the capacity to ship 15 percent more processor units quarter-over-quarter. We also believe that average selling prices are very firm for the third quarter."