Intel Execs Run Down Dual-Core Roadmap

Executives say the company's dual-core future includes a processor called the "Pentium D." Intel also intends to combine 64-bit processing and dual-core capabilities in its "Extreme Edition" processor family.

SAN FRANCISCO—Intel executives presented a detailed roadmap of the companys dual-core future at the Intel Developer Forum here on Tuesday, including plans for a processor that will now be called the "Pentium D."

According to Stephen Smith, vice president of the digital enterprise group at Intel Corp., the company has no less than 15 dual-core development plans under way, an indication that the chip giant has fully committed to its new tack. Moreover, Intel intends to combine 64-bit processing and dual-core capabilities in its "Extreme Edition" processor family.

Analysts have complained that Intels roadmap briefings are often lacking on key details that are revealed slowly over time, in briefings given individually over a period of months.

Smith said Intels new attitude is indicative of a "nuts and bolts approach," which one analyst took as the best testament that Intel has its dual-core program at full speed.

"It basically confirms a lot of rumors," said Nathan Brookwood, an analyst at Insight 64 in Saratoga, Calif. "Intel evidently felt that the best way to talk about this was to bring it all out in the open."

Intels current "hyperthreading" technology uses two instruction threads, which can switch from one to another to keep the processor running at full speed as often as possible.

Intels dual-core architecture, based on the "Prescott" Pentium 4 core, also will use hyperthreading inside of its individual cores to improve performance further. Intel said it is working with a number of software partners to develop multithreaded applications, but analysts called the software support lacking.

Smith said Intel expects that by the end of 2006, 85 percent of server chips shipped will be dual core. For desktop and mobile chips, he estimated that to be about 70 percent.

By the end of the decade, PC processors will have the ability to run eight threads, while server processors will able to run 32, Smith said. He added that while the current generation of hyperthreaded, dual-core processors can each process four threads–two per core–that ability may be increased over time.

According to Smith, Intel views the dual-core microprocessors as a premium brand. The dual-core chips will coexist with single-core offerings for an undisclosed amount of time, and the "Extreme Edition" derivative will shift over to the dual-core architecture.

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