Intel ready to launch Pentium Four
By Zatni Arbi
JAKARTA (JP): Was it too early for me to build a new PC in early September? Not really, because I could not possibly postpone the project any more. The friend who asked to buy the PC I was using at that time could not wait any longer, so I had to let him have it and go to Mal Mangga Dua to buy some of the components that I needed for the new PC. This darling is still working extremely well, and I am glad I replaced my old PC with it.
However, in term of the processor's price, it was actually two months too early. As Intel got ready to launch the fourth generation of its 32-bit processor, now called Pentium 4, it slashed the prices of existing Pentium III and Celeron processors. A recent report in PCWorld.com says that these prices have been reduced by up to 30 percent. Not bad. But then again, the price of the processor is about one-fourth the price of the entire system, so a reduction of 30 percent would not really result in a lot of savings. Besides, one has to buy a new PC when one has to -- not when the price is right -- as there will never be a PC with the right price.
Nonetheless, if you have been thinking of buying a new machine, the price cuts are still good news. The new processor is going to be launched soon, as Intel has promised to introduce it to the market in the fourth quarter of this year. PC vendors are also hoping that they can start shipping Pentium 4-based systems before the holiday shopping craze begins next month. Just think: A Pentium 4 machine for a Christmas gift -- wow!
You may still remember that Intel had to recall the Pentium III with a 1.13 GHz clock speed because of some technical problems. It would have been the fastest Pentium III processor today. Unfortunately, this processor will not reappear on the market until the second quarter of next year. If you really want the fastest Intel-based machine -- and you have an enviably ample budget -- then the Pentium 4 will quench your thirst. The first versions will reportedly run at the speed of 1.4 GHz and 1.5 GHz.
Pentium 4, which was announced in late June, is the sequel of Pentium III. It will still be a 32-bit processor, but understandably it will incorporate several new features.
While the logo will look a little different, the micro- architecture will also be different. This processor will be based on the new NetBurst micro-architecture, which replaces the P6 micro-architecture first introduced in Pentium Pro. We will have more information when the product gets introduced here one of these days, but if you want to know more right now about NetBurst, you can download the white papers from Intel's website. In the meantime, if you wondered what happened to the 64-bit processor that Intel was developing together with Hewlett- Packard, it is now known as the Itanium (formerly code-named Merced).
If you believe in the merits of the so-called Value-PC, here is more good news. This chipmaker has just introduced two faster Celeron processors, the 733 MHz and 766 MHz. The funny thing is that the 33 MHz difference in speed carries a difference of US$58 in price ($170 for the 766 MHz versus $112 for the 733 MHz version in quantities of 1,000). How come such a minute difference in clock speed costs the users a 50 percent difference in price?
There is other interesting news from Intel. Have you also wondered how tiny one-seventh of a human hair would be? What about 1/1000 of a human hair? That is the size of the transistors Intel is going to make with its newly developed 0.13 micron process technology. One micron is one millionth of a meter. If you think that is the smallest possible unit of measurement, think again. In its news release, Intel talks about nanometer (nm). One nanometer is one billionth of a meter. So 0.13 micron equals 130 nm. How small is that? You tell me.
What is the significance of this process technology? It allows chipmakers to produce microprocessors that require less power (1.3 volt or less), run faster (up to 65 percent faster than what can be achieved with the current 0.18 micron process technology) and cost less. I guess users will not really see lower prices though, because as the cost of making each individual transistor gets lower, the number of transistors in a chip will increase. The 0.13 micron process technology will allow for chips to contain up to 100 million transistors each.
While the chip technology continues to confirm Moore's law, which says the power of microprocessors will double every 18 months, computer users also continue to be beleaguered by viruses, worms and Trojan Horses. Last week, two readers were asking me what to do about these productivity killers. I also received several e-mails from people I did not know. One of them was a reply-all message that read: "I don't know you at all, but you have just sent me a virus". At any rate, Internet viruses, worms and Trojan Horses can create so much embarrassment for us, and they also rob us of our valuable time.
According to information on McAfee's website, the Navidad.exe was a Trojan Horse that was first detected on Nov. 3. It was on many of the unexpected e-mail messages that I received in the last three days.
Rule number one in protecting yourself against these intruders is never to open an attachment if you are not expecting it. Be extremely careful with attachments that have .exe, .pif, .vbs, .vbx, and .txt as the file name extension. If you receive a message from someone and it has an attachment, e-mail that person before you open the attached file and ask him whether he was really sending that file to you.
And, finally, do not forget that some viruses, such as the JS/Kak@M, will infect your system the moment you open an infected e-mail message in Outlook Express' Preview panel. Once in a while, go to www.microsoft.com/technet/security/current.asp and download security patches that you think you will need to deter these attacks. (firstname.lastname@example.org)