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The fastest flavour of Intel Pentium 4 processor so far – the 3.40GHz chip – this weekend debuted in Japanese retail, a day or two ahead of Intel’s formal announcement that is to happen on the 2nd of February.

According to Akiba PC Hotline, a local observer of retail computers and components market, a number of shops around famous Akihabara area in Tokyo, Japan, are now offering Intel Pentium 4 processors at lower price points reflecting the price-cut Intel will announce on Monday, the 2nd of February, 2004. Besides, Japanese retailers are also selling Intel Pentium 4 processors 3.40GHz that also debut only tomorrow.

The 3.40GHz chips that can be found in Japanese stores now are Northwood processors in 478-pin packaging with 512KB of level-two cache, 800MHz processor system bus, Hyper-Threading technology and 1.55V maximum Vcore. The source does not claim there are new versions of Pentium 4 central processing units – Prescott – with 1MB L2 cache and SSE3 technology available. There is no information on availability of Pentium 4 Extreme Edition 3.40GHz chip. In mid-January there were concerns about Intel's ability to deliver Pentium 4 "Prescott" processors with 1MB cache at 3.40GHz in sufficinent quantities by launch.

The fastest 0.13 micron processor for desktop computers from Santa Clara, California-based chipmaker – Intel Pentium 4 3.40GHz – is quoted from $415 to $453, a not really lofty price for a high-end microprocessor that officially even does not exist.

Sources close to Intel earlier reported that tomorrow the company officially rolls-out it next-generation Prescott Pentium 4 CPUs made using 90nm fabrication technology. The Pentium 4 with newer Prescott core will sport a number of improvements, but its overall performance is not likely to overpass currently available Pentium 4 models when working on the equal frequency because of deeper pipeline.

No matter what core Pentium 4 processor has inside, all the processors with 800MHz Quad Pumped Bus with speeds at 3.40GHz, 3.20GHz, 3.0GHz and 2.80GHz will cost $417, $278, $218 and $178 respectively in quantities from 1000 units starting from tomorrow.

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