Intel Sneaks out Cheap Pentiums

The chip maker is offering special Pentium 4 chips, prices undisclosed, for use in building inexpensive PCs. (

Intel is quietly offering a handful of low-end Pentium 4 processors to large PC makers.

Normally trumpeted as Intel Corp.s flagship chip brand, chips such the new Pentium 4 516, which do not appear on the chip makers public price list, are actually closer to its Celeron D value brand chips.

Like the Celeron line, the low-end Pentiums lack features such as hyperthreading—which promises to bump up the performance of a computer—found in the mainstream Pentium 4 500 and Pentium 4 600 models.

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The low-end Pentiums represent the latest example of a company practice of offering special processors to meet the needs of certain PC makers, a company spokesperson said in an e-mail to Ziff Davis Internet.

Intel had previously offered a Pentium 4 505 and a Pentium 4 519, for example.

Chips such as the 516, which have been showing up in some brand-name desktop PCs this fall, appear to be designed to help manufacturers market relatively inexpensive PC models with Pentium 4s inside them.

Gateway Inc., for example, uses the 516 chip in a $499 eMachines desktop. However, they could also be used by Intel to compete for business against rival Advanced Micro Devices Inc. in some segments, analysts said.

"Intel offering unusual SKUs at the trailing edge of their product lines makes sense, as it lets them target specific customers low-cost PC lines without endangering the price structure for mainstream Pentium 4 processors," Dean McCarron, principal analyst at Mercury Research Inc., said in an e-mail.

"This allows Intel to compete with lower-priced processors from AMD without sacrificing pricing for all Pentium 4s."

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