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Thursday, 29 June, 2000, 09:40 GMT 10:40 UK
Intel unveils Pentium 4
Intel chief executive Craig Barrett holding the Pentium 4 processor
Intel's Craig Barrett presents the Pentium 4
Escalating the war of the chip makers, Intel has unveiled details of its new Pentium 4 processor, which runs at speeds of up to 1.5 gigahertz.

Intel claims its newest chip beats the processing power of the recently announced 1 gigahertz Athlon processor, by rival Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), and its own 1 gigahertz Pentium III.

Most existing software, however, requires much less processing power than this newest generation of chips.

Presenting the new chip, Intel's chief executive, Craig Barrett, argued that faster computers were essential in a world where new generations of internet commerce, gaming and entertainment applications required ever greater processing power.

Industry analysts, though, caution consumers that there is little reason for them to rush into the shops and upgrade their computers. Users should probably wait for software developers to catch up with chipmakers, they say.

New processor design

Currently, it is mainly professional video editing systems and some financial applications that can potentially make the greatest use of ultra-fast processors.

The new processor goes on sale in the autumn, about six years after Intel revealed the first 100MHz chip.

But while raw processor speed is one of the benchmarks to determine the quality of a computer system, it is only one of the factors determining its overall speed.

Intel supplies processor chips for about 90% of the world's computers, cementing its dominant position through its close alliance with Microsoft, the maker of the Windows operating system.

The Pentium 4 was earlier known under its code-name Willamette, keeping with Intel's tradition of naming products under development after rivers in Intel's home state Oregon.

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