The Road to 2000
Intel's take on the big 00
In the golden days of Intel, talk about the year 2000 consisted of the mighty 1000MHz, or 1GHz barrier. No, this wasn't some pie in the sky threshold which couldn't be broken, but in the days of 100, 200, and even 300MHz components, being able to reach 1000MHz was more than a major milestone, it was Andy Grove's holy grail.
Now, processing power has become somewhat de-emphasized, and the bottlenecks have moved on to slower, less-advanced peripherals. Most general purpose operating systems and business applications needed only so much power, so as processors continued to increase in speed, faster grades were less critical, even for overly bloated Office suites.
The CPU was still considered one of the most important parts of the computer, and there were plenty of resource-intensive apps which were starved for more juice. But now, the general purpose microprocessor has some stiff competition in the form of host-alleviating peripherals that do their jobs much better than the CPU ever could.
The 3D menace
Of course, the most obvious example is the 3D graphics accelerator. In prior days, this was a veritable goldmine for CPU manufacturers (Intel) - a highly processor-intensive task that had no limiting boundaries in terms of possible improvements. As 3D became more popular and more demanding, people would have to turn to Intel to provide faster and faster CPUs to run their applications.
Now, highly specialized silicon in the form of 3D-specific accelerators has greatly undermined the importance of the CPU by handling 3D calculations itself. Now, a 300MHz CPU is just fine for the vast majority of 3D games available, and what a huge market 3D is. All of these people who should be buying Pentium IIIs are suddenly content spending $60 for a Celeron and $200 for a state of the art 3D accelerator.
So what's in store for Intel, and what are their plans to recapture the hearts of millions of money-spending computing consumers? Many answers can be found in their confidential CPU roadmaps, where Intel highlights its immediate and long-term goals for technology partners and big name customers.