Intel is heading into a new direction
; they’re moving away from their classic approach of speed and raw processing power and now put the focus on usability and features. It however is unlike Intel to do a major overhaul of all of their products in just one launch, normally they execute a bit slower and more cautious, gradually introducing new products over the coarse of one or two years. I’m quite sure their channel partners are grinding their teeth and calling them all sorts of nasty names for making this such a hard transition. I wouldn’t want to be in the shoes of a large computer manufacturer such as Dell
for example, having to abandon the Socket-478 platform all at once, and switching all production facilities to the new processors, socket, motherboards, chipsets, videocards, etc.
The success of their sales will largely depend on a successful ad campaign to pitch these new features and motivate prospective customers to take the plunge. How will Intel market all of this new technology, what is so compelling about it that you’ll want to upgrade? I’m hoping they won’t try to sell it on the ‘enhanced Internet experience’ again, as that really didn’t give them much credibility when they launched the Pentium III, but you never know, anything seems to be possible at Intel these days.
And indeed everything seems possible at Intel, not only do they launch a new socket for their Pentium 4 processors, they also abandon their naming scheme, no more 3.2GHz Pentium 4, but rather Intel Pentium 4 model 540. Their new chipsets no longer feature AGP slots, use DDR2 instead of DDR memory and come in a new, BTX, form factor that requires a new type of case, which isn’t compatible with the old ATX standard. And to top it all off we see the introduction of PCI-Express, which requires a PCI-Express graphics card to get these new motherboards to work. So at the end of the day what hasn’t changed about this new platform? Intel indeed is not holding back this time and has addressed every aspect of the PC and made fundamental changes that’ll render many, if not most, PC parts useless. No more fast AGP graphics cards, no more Socket-478 and no more DDR memory and that ATX case you bought recently has to be replaced as well.
To me it looks they’re betting it all on one horse, the new Socket-775 is what you’ll need to invest in if you want these new features, whether the end user will go for that remains to be seen. In the past upgrading to new technology has been driven by the extra performance offered, now Intel is betting on the fact that new features will also motivate customers to invest in their new technology. As we’ve seen many times over, people will only invest in new features if they find them worthwhile, so whether this new platform will be an instant success or off to a rocky start remains to be seen. Unlike before, when Intel was well ahead of the competition, alternatives are now available that might offer less in terms of features, but more in terms of performance and price.