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Intel Demos 3.5GHz Pentium 4

Intel Corp. is preaching to the choir at its annual Intel Developer Forum in San Jose. Today, executive vice president Paul Otellini followed yesterday's introduction of the 2GHz Pentium 4 processor by demonstrating a laboratory-prototype Pentium 4 running at 3.5GHz, while stating that the P4 microarchitecture is expected to scale to 10GHz during its lifetime.

But sheer clock speed isn't the only thing on Intel's mind, insisted Otellini, announcing a new Hyper-Threading technology that "effectively enables multiprocessing on a single chip" to deliver a 30-percent performance boost in certain server and workstation applications.

According to Intel, Hyper-Threading is a simultaneous multithreading design that allows an operating system to view a single CPU as if it were two logical processors, able to handle parallel streams of data instructions by switching from one thread to the other every few nanoseconds. While the trick cannot really double a processor's throughput -- only one application at a time can access a chip's floating-point unit, for instance -- Intel says Hyper-Threading can significantly increase the number of users or Web transacations that servers can handle at once, and has potential for improving PC and workstation multitasking.

The chip giant says Hyper-Threading will appear in its Xeon server processors in 2002 and in desktop and other products beginning in 2003. Intel adds that it's redoubling its efforts to help software developers optimize their applications for the Pentium 4 and Hyper-Threading technology, including developing a toolset that will assist in adding multithreading capability to applications not currently divided into threads.

Eric Grevstad is managing editor of sister site, HardwareCentral.