Intel delays Pentium 4

Intel was widely expected to launch its next-generation processor by the end of October, although the company never announced an official release date. Now it looks as if the Pentium 4 -- and the new PCs that will use it -- are being delayed until late November, according to a source at a major direct-PC vendor.

Details about the problem are scarce, but it appears to be an issue with the 850 chip set and not the processor itself, the source says. Intel notified the vendor about the problem on Thursday.

Problem Not Apparent

The vendor hasn't turned up any problems during its own testing, and the company is pleased with the early performance results of the new processor, the source says.

Intel officials decline to comment on the problem or the expected launch date, noting that the company has repeatedly stated only that it plans to launch the product in the fourth quarter of this year. The chip was previously code-named Willamette.

Intel is counting on the P4 to bolster an image battered by repeated product glitches and delays over the last year. Those problems began, ironically, with the 850 chip set's predecessor, the 820. Intel was forced to delay that product in September 1999 after it ran into issues days before the launch.

Few P4s for Christmas?

If the P4 doesn't launch until late November, few vendors will be able to rush out systems in time for the Christmas buying season.

Hype around the P4 has been building for months, and in August Intel displayed a P4 running at 2 GHz. The processor's NetBurst micro-architecture is Intel's first new micro-architecture since the Pentium Pro in 1995. The architecture includes a hyperpipelined technology that doubles the processor's pipeline depth, a rapid execution engine that runs the processor's Arithmetic Logic Units at twice the core frequency, and a new 400-MHz system bus that provides 3.2-gigabytes-per-second transfer speeds to RDRAM memory.

Anush Yegyazarian contributed to this report.

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