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Intel Brings Hyper-Threading to the Desktop

Intel on Thursday introduced a faster Pentium 4 processor that is the first desktop chip to include Hyper-Threading technology. The 3.06 GHz Pentium 4 is available immediately at a cost of $637 in 1,000-unit quantities.

Hyper-Threading is a way to increase chip performance by executing multiple application threads at the same time. Effectively, the processor looks to the system as if it were two processors. Introduced earlier this year, the technology was previously only available in the Xeon server processors.

Hyper-Threading can be useful in two situations, when an application is written to use multi-threading or when a user is multi-tasking. For Hyper-Threading to work, the chipset and BIOS must support the technology and the operating system must be optimized for it. Windows XP and Linux currently support Hyper-Threading, according to Intel.

But even when all those requirements are met, users won't see a doubling of performance. Benchmarks on the server and workstation side showed a maximum of about 30 percent performance improvement due to Hyper-Threading.

The new processors also bring a performance bump in raw clockspeed. The 3.06-GHz clockspeed is about 9 percent faster than the 2.8-GHz model that was previously the top of the Intel line.

Intel dropped prices on its other Pentium 4 processors on Sunday to clear the path for the new chip. In 1,000-unit quantities, the price for the 2.8-GHz Pentium 4 dropped 21 percent to $401, and the price for the 2.66-GHz and 2.6-GHz Pentium 4s each dropped 24 percent to $305.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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