By Van Smith
Date: July 17, 2001
Ace's Hardware reported today their belief that the future of Intel's desktop 0.13 micron version of the Pentium III is now in doubt. In fact, Ace's, a popular hangout for the erudite technophile, states that the chip will not be available at all in the retail channel and may only see limited volumes even for OEMs.
There are several reasons why this speculation may be true. It is already known that this version of the PIII, widely referred to by its development name "Tualatin," offers per-clock performance considerably higher than Intel's flagship Pentium 4. Consequently, a 1.2 GHz Tualatin delivers roughly the equivalent overall performance of a 1.5 or even 1.6 GHz Pentium 4. When using SDRAM and the upcoming i845 chipset in conjunction with the P4, the comparison becomes even less favorable for the new design.
Having such performance overlap complicates product positioning and furthers what appears to be an entrenched resistance to the P4, a chip with widely varying performance characteristics. Eventually the P4 should be able to reach much higher clock speeds than what Tualatin is capable of, but this does little to help the chipmaker now as it tries to gain a foothold with its new architecture.
Another issue is Intel's current migration to a new 0.13 micron copper process. Although this move has been widely lauded in the press as entering production this quarter, for some time we have expressed our belief that the Santa Clara company will be not able to reach high volumes at 0.13 until next year. Given production constraints and Intel's desire to establish it's new architecture, it makes sense for the company to withhold the Tualatin to free up resources for the 0.13 micron version of the P4 known as Northwood.
Meanwhile, another analysis published today suggests that the 256kB L2 cache version of Tualatin will be marketed as Celeron in Q4 in what amounts to a six month pull of the budget offering, while the PIII will be phased out.
Intel reports earnings this afternoon.