Ladies and gentlemen, brace yourselves: Intel, the company who brought you such memorable and evocative (hey, at least they evoke a gag reflex) product names as "Celeron" and "Itanium," has officially bestowed a moniker on its upcoming processor code-named "Willamette." As of this point forward, Willamette will henceforth be known as: (trumpet fanfare) The Pentium 4! It's official; so sayeth ZDNet News. (We assume Intel's migrated to arabic numerals because they couldn't decide whether "IIII" or "IV" was correct.) Now, don't trip all over yourselves in your mad, foaming dash to ask the company how they managed to come up with such a groundbreaking title-- we're assured that it's a trade secret.
However, with a little thought, it's not too tough to figure out. The Pentium was a huge smash, right? Both because the chip was, at its introduction, tons faster than its 486 predecessor, and because the name "Pentium" has a cool Latin kind of ring to it. Note also that the Celeron and Itanium product names attracted so much laughter and ridicule when unveiled, you'd think Intel had just taken the wraps off a clown car instead of a processor or two. At some point, some bright soul in the marketing department figured the company should take a cue from Hollywood: sequels to hit films make money. Period. That brought the world the Pentium II (x86's Revenge), and then the Pentium III (Son Of MMX). So why mess with a good thing? Why, ten years down the line, we'll probably all be seeing commercials for the Pentium VII: Return Of The Bunnymen.
Now, believe it or not, not everyone out there in TV Land is a slavering AtAT fan. (No, really, it's true!) And we're sure we're going to hear from those critics out there who will note that, while the designations "G3," "G4," "G5," etc. aren't actual product names, they're just as unimaginative as Intel's sequel-happy nomenclature-- and AIM's real chip names (601, 604, 750, and so on) aren't winning any creativity awards, either. And others will point out that our feeble attempts to mock the Pentium 4's name is merely an obvious and childish throwback to schoolyard behavior because we can't intelligently deride the chip's technology-- this latest addition to the Pentium family will reportedly ship later this year at clock speeds of up to 1.4 GHz, just when our own G4 will (hopefully) reach half that. So let us stem the avalanche of mail by issuing a preemptive official response to all those points: "Oh yeah? Well, so's your mother!"