SANTA CLARA, Calif. Intel Corp. is taking the gloves off and preparing a three-pronged attack against its microprocessor archrival Advanced Micro Devices Inc.
Intel's first move is expected to be the roll out of its initial 90-nm desktop microprocessors on Feb. 2 at prices below 64-bit processors from AMD.
Intel is also preparing to cut prices on its current Pentium 4-based chips by up to 33 percent. The chip giant is readying an X86-based, 64-bit processor line in a move to better compete against AMD's own 64-bit chip products.
The products are aimed directly at AMD, which is scrambling to keep up with Intel in the processor and process technology race, according to analysts.
Intel's four 90-nm desktop processors, codenamed Prescott, run at speeds of 3-, 3.2- and 3.4-GHz, according to a new report from Pacific Crest Securities Inc., an investment banking firm (Portland, Ore.).
Intel's Prescott line of processors, which have been expected for some time, incorporate a 800-MHz front-side bus, according to the report. The entry-level, 3-GHz processor comes with 1-MB of cache and sells for $221, according to the report.
The 3.2-GHz chip comes with 1-MB of cache and sells for $279. Intel will also offer a pair of 3.4-GHz chips, both selling for $414. One chip has 512-KB of cache while the other has 1-MB.
With Prescott, Intel claims to have several cost advantages over AMD. The chip giant not only will make the Prescott line of processors on 300-mm wafers, but the chips have a die size of 110 mm2, or roughly 30 percent less space than AMD's 130-nm parts, according to the report.
This puts "AMD at an enormous cost disadvantage heading into Q2, with little relief until volume shipments of 90-nm Athlon 64 commence in Q3," according to the report.
What's more, the new Prescotts appear to be less expensive than comparable chips from AMD. In another effort to attack its rival, Intel plans to cut the prices of its current Pentium 4 chips by 15 to 33 percent, the report said.
Intel officials acknowledged this week (Jan. 30) the existence of a 64-bit x86-based processor line. As reported, Intel will soon unveil a 64-bit processor, which runs x86-based instructions in the native mode, according to a recent report from American Technology Research Inc. The processor could see a possible introduction in mid-2004, with volume delivery in 2005, according to the report from the research firm.
Intel currently offers a 64-bit processor line, dubbed Itanium, which runs x86-based instructions in emulation mode. Some believe the x86-based 64-bit chip is the coming of the so-called "Yamhill' processor a product that runs both 32- and 64-bit instruction sets. The reported product from Intel is also similar to the 32/64-bit processor line from AMD.
On reports that Intel might demonstrate a 64-bit X86 at its upcoming developers forum, some analysts have speculated the move could mean a big shift away from its 64-bit Itanium architecture co-developed with Hewlett-Packard. However, one senior HP server manager said he sees no signs of such a change in CPU strategy.
"That's a rumor I have heard, but there's definitely no shift. It's not impacting the product strategies I am aware of," the HP manager said.
--Rick Merritt contributed to this report.