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Intel Paves the Way for Hyper-Threading

In preparation for its next generation of PC and server semiconductors, Intel Tuesday released new compiler software designed for Windows and Linux operating systems.

Software developers use compilers to translate a programming language, such as C++ or Fortran, into the machine language understood by the processor. Version 7.0 of Intel C++ and Intel Fortran compiler software was built specifically for use in the latest Intel Itanium 2, Intel Xeon and Intel Pentium 4 processors-based systems, which boast the company's new Hyper-Threading technology.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based chip making giant said Hyper-Threading chips allow multithreaded operating systems and applications to view a single physical processor as if it were two logical processors. Intel says it's similar to watching television while talking on the phone. Intel says that can increase performance of a multithreaded application by 40 percent.

Version 7.0 for C++ is now available for download starting at $399 each. Version 7.0 of the Fortran compilers for Windows and Linux are being sold for $499 and $699 respectively. The compilers will be available on CDROMs by the end of the month.

The new compilers support many features of Compaq Visual Fortran, including command line compatibility and include extensive integration into Microsoft Visual Studio. The Linux version provides GNU compatibility to C++ with the adoption of the C++ application binary interface. Intel said its compatibility features make it easier for application developers to start using Intel compilers to see how their applications might perform better on the Intel Architecture.

"Intel compilers enable software developers to make their applications more competitive with improved performance," said Jon Khazam, director of Intel's Software Products Division.

The new version 7.0 Intel Compilers also include an auto-parallelization option that automatically looks for opportunities in applications to create multiple execution threads and enhancements to OpenMP support. OpenMP is an industry standard that enables the use of high-level directives that simplify the creation and management of multi-threaded application software.

"Our application is heavily used in very large and time consuming data mining applications, so it is of great importance to get the best performance possible," said Dr. Fons Rademakers, Senior Scientist at CERN. "We ported 800,000 lines of C++ and 90,000 lines of C source code to the Intel compiler in one afternoon, an activity that previously took us about a week."

The idea for Hyper-Threading was the brainchild of Intel senior engineer Glenn Hinton back in 1993. The company has begun filtering in the multithreading designs into its Pentium 4 processors as early as 1996.