Intel has decided to cash out of the "clock speed is everything" game. Can't say we didn't see it coming. In fact, this day has been coming ever since the canceling of "Tejas", the desktop replacement of Prescott which was supposed to drive Intel's chips up to 10GHz on a 65 nanometer revision of the Netburst core design.
The massive changes from Northwood to Prescott to increase its ability to scale in clock speed have been so incredibly unsuccessful that it has turned the company's roadmap 180 degrees at a blinding speed. While I assumed Intel would at least release a 4GHz Pentium4 in limited quantities just to say "we did it, and that's a really big number!", the company's execs have apparently changed their tune entirely.
According to Intel's own internal documentation [hardocp.com], "Prescott at 4GHz is out, multi core and more in store". In changing the roadmap, Intelís moving people away from "GHz-oriented" projects to others. Specifically, they mentioned multi core and other technologies that can be integrated into processors: "Blue Crystals", so to speak. This means adding cache to the processors, security, mobility, power reduction, and manageability.
According to the document, Intel has "for several years...said that increasingly, gigahertz speed alone will not deliver on the performance or computing requirements of today's computer users need." Apparently they haven't been watching their own ads. They've actually added features and functionality in other markets such as the mobile sector, and in "big tin" such as the Itanium. But on the desktop, it's sadly been "all GHz, all the time" since the demise of the Pentium III.
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