The Pentium 4 at 1.30GHz which Intel will introduce in January will have a very short shelf life, we can reveal.
The microprocessor, which will be introduced on the 28th of January at $268, a quarter after the 1.5GHz and 1.4GHz Pentium 4 launches, will only last for a quarter, according to Intel itself.
When Intel reprices these products in the second quarter of 2001, the 1.4GHz Pentium 4 will fall to the same price as the 1.3GHz, thus putting an end to the short-lived chip.
That decision is likely to prompt questions from PC manufacturers, distributors, dealers and, yes, consumers, as to the wisdom of introducing 1.3GHz Pentium 4s at all.
But, luckily, Intel has the answers to such questions, and internal notes we viewed over the last few days illustrate why the firm is taking the decision. It's a promotional decision.
The notes said: "Our focus is to ramp high end SKUs for performance segments at launch. The validation priorities for 1.50 GHz and 1.40 GHz did not facilitate launching 1.30 GHz until Q1’01. The 1.30 GHz SKU will provide a lower system price point in Q1’01 for an aggressive ramp of P4P into Mainstream3 platforms.
"Due to manufacturing improvements, 1.40 GHz SKUs will be able to replace the price point of 1.30 GHz in Q2’01, preventing an excessive number of SKUs in the upper end of the roadmap."
Put into English and out of Intelspeak, this means that the firm couldn't be sure its low-price 1.3GHz Pentium 4 worked earlier, but it wants to give the entire platform a boost by making a big noise about it and launching it at a competitive price.
On the same day, at the end of January, Intel will cut the price of the Pentium III 1GHz microprocessor, and reduce prices on a large number of other chips it sells.
The pricing onslaught will continue unabated for the whole of the first half of next year, and is likely to torment any consumer thinking of buying a new PC, given the competition Intel now faces.
Over the next few days, after the Yule log has died to an ember, we will attempt to clarify those hard choices for readers.
Meanwhile, signs are growing that the Pentium III at 1GHz is already being discounted in the run up to the price cuts. This page at Tiger Direct shows the firm is currently offering the processor, bundled with 128Mb of RDRAM and a VC820 mobo for less than $500.
An SKU, for those uninitiated in Intel three letter acronyms, is a stock keeping unit. ®