SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) _ Intel Corp. on Monday announced the availability of its fastest version to date of the high-end Pentium 4 microprocessor.
The new chip runs at 1.8 gigahertz, slightly faster than the 1.7 GHz Pentium 4 released in April. The world's largest chip maker also released a 1.6 GHz Pentium 4 on Monday.
``These two new speeds enable a broader range of performance and price points for our customers,'' said Louis Burns, vice president and general manager, Intel Desktop Platforms Group.
The company also announced plans to release a 2 GHz version of the Pentium 4 in the coming months.
The new chips are Intel's latest salvo in the battle against rival Advanced Micro Devices Inc. and its Athlon chip.
So far, Intel is winning the gigahertz race, with Athlon topping out currently at 1.4 GHz. However, several product reviews indicate the Athlon performs better overall than the higher-speed Pentiums.
Intel said the chip is optimized for demanding multimedia applications, and developers are now just beginning to design software that takes advantages of its capabilities.
When the Pentium 4 was introduced earlier this year, Intel had hoped to sell as many as 20 million units. So far, according to Mercury Research Inc., about 3 million have been sold.
Thanks to aggressive cost-cutting, however, Mercury estimates Intel is on track to sell about 13 million Pentium 4 processors in 2001.
``Intel has made aggressive price moves, and that's helping,'' said Mike Feibus, senior analyst at Mercury. ``The Pentium 4 has gained acceptance in the consumer market.''
Later this year, Intel plans to address one big complaint of business users and introduce changes that will make the Pentium 4 compatible with more forms of memory.
When purchased in lots of 1,000, the 1.8 GHz version is priced at $562, and the 1.6 GHz version is $294.