Intel readies hyperthreading Pentium 4

Intel Corp. plans to release on Nov. 14 its fastest Pentium 4 processor yet for desktop systems. The chip will also be Intel's first desktop model with hyperthreading. A technology that is already present in its Xeon server processors, hyperthreading allows multiple software threads to run more efficiently on a single processor.

The 3.06-GHz Pentium 4 processor is expected to be unveiled in systems from multinational PC vendors, according to information about the launch event from Intel in Europe. A spokesman for Intel in Europe declined to comment further on the availability of systems with the new processor.

Hyperthreading eliminates the wasted clock cycles caused by a single-threading processor in queuing up its next set of instructions, said Peter Kastner, an analyst at Aberdeen Group Inc. in Boston.

"We would expect the performance uptake of the 3.06-GHz processor will be considerably more than the 200-MHz [clock speed increase] from the 2.8-GHz Pentium 4," Kastner said.

Most modern software is written with multiple threads. An example of multithreaded software is the latest version of Microsoft Corp.'s Word, which comes with an automatic spell checker that runs in the background while the user types, Kastner said. This background operation is a software thread that doesn't require much processing power, so today's processors can handle the swapping back and forth between software threads, he said.

"You won't see a heck of a lot of difference in Word, but software like [Adobe Systems Inc.'s] Photoshop or video-rendering software will benefit considerably," he said.

Another benefit of hyperthreading is that it's a proven technology, having been in Xeon processors since February, Kastner said. Intel will likely include hyperthreading in all of its future Pentium 4 processors, he said.

Joris Evers in Amsterdam contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2002 IDG Communications, Inc.

7 inconvenient truths about the hybrid work trend
Shop Tech Products at Amazon