Intel Corporation outlined some of its plans for the future, amid turmoil over its inability to reliably scale the aging x86 architecture beyond 1 GHz. But Intel says all is well: It's 1.4 GHz Pentium 4 chip--the first truly new processor design from Intel in about four years---will debut by the end of the year, and its mobile chips will hit 1 GHz early in 2001. In fact, the 1 GHz Mobile Pentium III will consume less than 2 watts of power, an obvious jab at competitor Transmeta, whose chips will finally show up in production machines later this month. But Intel's latest moves may very well negate the need for Transmeta, which is offering processors that consume less power at the expense of speed. Intel's new designs are extremely fast, but they also undercut Transmeta when it comes to consuming battery life.

Intel, which made these announcements at the annual Microprocessor Forum in San Jose, says that a move to 0.13-micron technology will enable its Mobile Pentium III processors to advance well past the 850 MHz mark we're at today. The company says that its new chips will target four main market segments; full-featured notebooks, thin and light notebooks, sub-notebooks, and mini-notebooks. Intel expects the market to change from predominantly full-featured devices to the thin-and-light category, which offers a compelling blend of power and size. However, the market evolves, Intel plans to offer the best battery life and performance in each category.

Transmeta says that Intel is simply playing catch-up, however, though the company's chips have yet to be performance tested. It's likely that the true measure of these devices will not be known until both can be compared side-by-side. But one thing is obvious at this point: With Intel facing competition now from AMD on the desktop and Transmeta in the mobile space, consumers can look forward to a flurry of advancements and lower prices in the coming days.