Intel will begin to roll out the new "series" scheme beginning in the second quarter, applying the new nomenclature a wide variety of processors: to the Pentium M processor, and both the mobile and desktop versions of the Pentium 4, as well as the desktop and mobile Celeron processors. Intel has planned this marketing move for more than two years.
"Its the most important revision to Intels marketing strategy since Intel Inside," said Dean McCarron, an analyst with Mercury Research Corp. in Cave Creek, Ariz.
As Intel begins to emphasize the PC "platform"—processor, chipset, and wireless functions—the clock speed of the processor is fading in importance relative to the capabilities of the overall platform, according to George Alfs, a spokesman for Intel.
Intel will still continue to encourage OEMs to list the clock speed of the chip, but just as part of a number of features that define the processor and platform, which include the clock speed, cache size, speed of the front-side bus, memory interface, and other attributes.
Alfs said Intel will move to a marketing nomenclature that mimics BMW AGs numbering scheme for its automobiles: a 300-series, a 500-series, and a 700-series line. Celerons, for example, will fall under the 3-series classification, Alfs said, while 5-series processors will be used to describe the Pentium 4. Intels flagship mobile brand, the Centrino, will use the 7-series classification.
"Were only going to use it on new processors," Alfs said. "Bottom line, were going to keep the focus on the platform." Intel will also add another sub-brand, Alfs said, using "Centrino D" and "Centrino M" to distinguish between the desktop and mobile Centrino processors.
Intel planned to add a performance rating or some other abstraction when the company launched the Banias processor in early 2003. However, Alfs said, the company had too much on its plate with establishing the Banias and the Centrino brands, let alone to introduce a new naming scheme.
Still, the change in Intels marketing strategy acknowledges the fact that the "speed race" in microprocessors may be drawing to a close.
Rival Advanced Micro Devices Inc., for example, has shifted to "model numbers" to describe its chips, and Glenn Henry, responsible for overseeing Via Technology Inc.s own Centaur processor division, designed the companys processors around the credo that clock speed doesnt matter.
Meanwhile, sources said that Intel will launch the delayed "Dothan" chip, its first 90nm mobile microprocessor, in May.