TAIPEI, Taiwan Intel Corp. ratcheted up the Pentium 4 with the release Monday (April 23) of a 1.7-GHz version of its flagship processor at the Intel Developer Forum in Taipei, Taiwan. The chip maker also reiterated its fundamental support for Rambus Inc.'s memory architecture and threw down a united front with a trio of Asian memory makers, including Samsung Electronics, the largest volume producer of Rambus DRAM.
Intel continued its aggressive pricing policy with the Pentium 4, offering the latest version at $352 each in 1,000-unit lots, and memory makers said the cost of RDRAM would continue to decline as volumes ramp up and new architectures save overhead on die costs. Intel also said it plans to reduce the prices of its 1.3-GHz, 1.4-GHz and 1.5-GHz Pentium 4 processors later this month.
The pricing strategy is the most aggressive yet for Intel and falls in line with its promises that the P4 ramp-up would be faster than any other processor in the company's history. The chip maker is hoping to reap continued benefits from its alignment with Samsung, in which Intel invested in back-end test operations to bring down the manufacturing cost of Rambus. This year the memory maker which owns about half the world RDRAM market, according to its own estimates plans to produce roughly 240 million 64-Mbyte equivalent units of RDRAM compared to 60 million unit equivalents last year.
"It's obviously the main ramp vehicle for the Pentium 4," said Peter Mueller of Intel's Desktop Products Group. "We're really going to start to drive the learning curve for RDRAM. Specifically, some of the cost reduction strategies that follow after a new technology ramps."
The three memory makers in attendance at the forum Samsung, Elpida and Toshiba all said their focus is on Rambus for the first half of the year. "We have almost doubled our monthly output from the first quarter to the second quarter and we will continue to do this into the third and fourth quarter," said Jon Kang, senior vice president for Samsung's memory division.