Forget it, Intel. The processor clock speed race is over, killed by its own success.
ITEM: The faster the processor runs, the more circuitry is needed to control the chip at fantastic speeds. That additional overhead cuts into the processing power, according to the October issue of MIT's Technology Review Magazine.
A 2GHz processor doesn't run at twice the speed of a 1GHz chip, because of the extra overhead to control all the transistors operating at a blinding pace. In fact MIT points out there is a law of diminishing returns here: the faster the clock speed, the more overhead required, and the greater penalty in performance.
One of MIT's solutions is to come up with a clockless PC --something you would expect from the brain trust. But that isn't going to happen any time soon. There is a more obvious immediate solution: stick with lower speed processors that do the job quite well, thank you, and don't fall victim to the diminishing returns of hyped multi-GHz chips.
MIT also points out the racetrack clock speeds and additional control circuitry eat up more power and generate more heat. That requires additional complex safeguard thermal appliques -- just to support clock speed bragging rights.
ITEM: Intel with its rocketing speed grades, and AMD with its own roadmap frequency jumps, haven't spurred the PC market, except perhaps for some power users.
The corporate market, facing a severe business downturn, hasn't been motivated to rush into new 2Ghz machines. And all the speed hype hasn't stirred a lethargic consumer market.
Bert McCommas, principal of InQuest Research Inc., also warned that when both corporate and consumers do return in force to the market they may be content just to buy the low-price, lowest speed grade PCs, rather than 2GHz plus machines.
"A 1.4-GHz PC, probably the lowest speed available, will still be twice as fast or more than PCs being replaced. But OEMs and their processor suppliers won't be happy if the bulk of PC buying is at the profit-squeezed lowest price points of the market."
ITEM: Even Intel is aware of the looming conundrum: What do you do in processors when gigahertz no longer matters? Intel president Craig Barrett posed that question at the last Intel Developers Forum.
That's the issue the industry should be addressing right now -- not in several years when 3GHz and 5Ghz processors may reach gridlock. A good start is to get off the speed kick and make existing frequency processors more user-friendly right now.