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Parallel processing: coming to a PC near you

Intel talks up new technologies

Intel officially pronounced the megahertz era dead at the Fall Intel Developer Forum in San Fransisco this week.

The company is now to focus on parallel processing, including multicore processors, virtualisation technology, and a continuation of Intel's hyperthreading technology, said Intel President and Chief Operating Officer Paul Otellini in his opening address at the Forum.

Intel has gradually shifted over the past two years away from its former marketing strategy based on ever-increasing clock speeds to a plan that improves performance with new features and technologies.

Analysts had been hoping that Intel would provide more details about plans to introduce dual-core processors in 2005, which it abruptly announced in May. Otellini did not take the bait, declining to even provide the code names of the upcoming processors.

He did reiterate that the company would introduce dual-core chips for desktops, servers, and notebooks in 2005, with most of the growth coming in 2006.
As promised, Intel demonstrated a dual-core processor.

An Itanium 2 server from Silicon Graphics was shown running a weather modelling application on Montecito, Intel's previously disclosed dual-core Itanium 2 processor. Montecito is due to arrive in 2005.

The move to dual-core processors will proceed much faster for notebook and server processors, Otellini said. More than 75 percent of Intel's 2006 shipments in those categories will be dual-core chips, with just under half of all desktop chips in that time frame containing two cores, he said.

In the meantime, Intel will continue to bring new features to its chips. It has already introduced hyperthreading and 64-bit extensions, and plans to bring virtualisation and security features to its chips in the future.

Otellini demonstrated a digital office PC that could run different applications and operating systems on a single chip with Vanderpool, Intel's virtualisation technology.

Vanderpool and LaGrande, Intel's code-name for a digital-rights management technology, will not ship in Intel products until Microsoft releases Longhorn, Otellini said. Longhorn is the next generation of the Windows operating system, and as of Tuesday it was expected in 2006.


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