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Dual-Core Pentiums Coming In Q2

Intel announced this week it is already turning out trial production runs of two of its promised dual-core processor models, enabling creation of desktop PCs that can run four separate threads at once. Deliveries of production processors and supporting chipsets will come in the second quarter, a company spokeswoman says.

The two new Intel chips have two complete CPU “cores” within each processor. One of them, dubbed the Pentium processor Extreme Edition, will also take advantage of Intel’s Hyper-Threading technology (HT) to enable a system based on it to run four separate threads simultaneously. Introduced three years ago, HT enables a single core processor to run two separate independent threads, basically appearing as two logical processors.

The company refers to the other new chip as a dual-core member of the “mainstream” Pentium family. That chip, which has not been publicly named yet, will not support Hyper-Threading so it will function as two processors, not four.

Intel is initially pitching the Extreme Edition as the perfect platform for intensive desktop computing tasks and for media processing such as audio, video, digital design and gaming. “[Additionally] with four threads, there’s a benefit to multitasking in the enterprise IT environment where you’re running large queries and also [simultaneously] doing other tasks like downloading huge files,” the spokeswoman says.

In addition to the two new dual-core processors, Intel is also coming out with chipsets to support them, also in the second quarter.

The Extreme Edition processor will be combined with Intel’s 955X Express chipset. Formerly codenamed “Glenwood,” the 955X provides support for Intel High Definition Audio, PCI-Express and faster dual-channel DDR-2 memory. Intel will also couple its mainstream dual-core processor – formerly codenamed “Smithfield” -- with two new chipsets named the Intel 945G Express chipset and Intel 945P Express chipset, Both were previously code-named “Lakeport.”

Intel executives also disclosed that there are a total of 10 multi-core related “projects” currently underway within the company, but the company did not say what those entail. An Intel spokesperson also declined to provide further details about either the new dual-core processors or chipsets.

Meanwhile, IBM, Sony and Toshiba say they are hard at work on their own multi-core processor, code-named "Cell." Plans call for production to start this year with a deliverable product in 2006. (See related story).

About the Author

Stuart J. Johnston has covered technology, especially Microsoft, since February 1988 for InfoWorld, Computerworld, Information Week, and PC World, as well as for Enterprise Developer, XML & Web Services, and .NET magazines.

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