How to group product
lines"> For the desktop lines, there are three groupings. The 300 series is for the low-end Celeron line, the 500 for the mainstream Pentium 4 with HyperThreading line and the 700 for the Pentium 4 Extreme Edition parts, which are targeted at power gamers. On laptops, like desktops, the 300 is the low-end (Celeron) line. However, 500 designates the P4 M (M for mobile) line, which is targeted at desktop-replacement station-to-station users. The 700 line encompasses the new Pentium M, which is targeted for folks who are highly mobile. A station-to-station user is one whos always plugged in and simply relocates a lot. Such a user therefore needs something more portable than a typical desktop machine, but he or she doesnt really travel all that much. Someone who works from home two days and is in the office three days would be an ideal user for a desktop replacement box.Going forward, the relative capability of each part will increment based on changes to a number of factors. If there is a significantas defined by Intelchange in the instructions set (such as SSE2), capability (such as HyperThreading), hardware (such as increased cache) or speed (MHz is still in there somewhere), the processor will be incremented. That means a 725 will be better than a 720. If both are at the same price, the 725 will be a better deal. Trying to figure out how much better will be an exercise in frustration. If you are setting a spec, set minimums to establish class, and then move on. If you try to become too granular, you will probably just confuse the situation, and the vendors will be driven to the newer processors anyway as Intel moves from processor to processor.Over the next few weeks, vendors will be working on how to respond to this Intel move. You can, at least for now, ignore this part-number change, as MHz will still be around, and you can build that into a spec. However, given that the real measure of value is likely system performance (vendors have been putting fast chips in slow systems for years), maybe its time to toss out vendor-sourced metrics and set a specificationas the military often doesoff independent benchmarks or ones you do yourself. Granted, benchmarks are harder to compile than processor speeds or arbitrary numbers, but they generally help you get the best actual deal, if done properly. They also help you work through what product you actually need. Being able to demonstrate that you are doing the most with the funds for which you are responsible is generally considered to be a good career move and one you should consider here. While the industry still needs a metric similar to horsepower, in the end this move by Intel both increases the chance that we will have one and further exemplifies the need for a solid benchmarking process that includes all of the features, since we really do need to know that we are getting what we paid for. Rob Enderle is the principal analyst for the Enderle Group, a company specializing in emerging personal technology. Check out eWEEKs Desktop & Notebook Center at http://desktop.eweek.com for the latest news in desktop and notebook computing.