Speed thrills but...

DQW Bureau
New Update

Today, there is virtually a race going on between the frontline chip

vendors--AMD and Intel--to build a better and faster chip. Till yesterday, the

talk used to be in terms of megahertz (MHz). But now, that term has become

obsolete as vendors have started talking in terms of gigahertz (GHz).


Surprisingly, Intel which till recently used to virtually control the

worldwide chip market, has been one of the late starters in this new war of

speed. In fact, it is Intel's arch rival AMD which has taken the lead in not

only announcing but also commercially producing faster chips--something which

Intel has been unable to match.

But now it seems that the situation is reversing as Intel has just announced

the PIV chip, which performs at an incredible 2 GHz. In the process, it has

managed to squeeze in 42 million transistors on a single chip, up from 28

million transistors contained in PIII.Although it is a big breakthrough, the

fact of the matter remains that this chip is not expected to come into the

market before the middle of next year. However, shipping of the 1.4 MHz version

of the same chip is scheduled to begin next month.

Still, this development means that Intel has resumed its usual leadership

role in the chip performance sweepstakes, which it had handed over to AMD in the

last one-year or so. But rest assured, AMD is certain to follow suit and

according to some reports, is expected to match Intel's latest announcement


As expected, all the hardware vendors are excited about this development, as

they would be able to offer more and more powerful systems to their customers.

But, does anybody ever stop to ask the poor and hapless customer whether he

wants faster and yet more faster machines. Won't he be able to do his job

equally efficiently with the current speeds? If anybody ever asks this question,

no prizes for guessing what the answer would be.

Rather than going in for more speed, the key lies in reducing the total cost

of ownership. Otherwise the vendors would do well to remember the old

saying--speed thrills but kills. Remember what happened to Digital which despite

having the fastest processor--the various variants of Alpha--available in the

market, could not save itself in the marketplace.