Intel Readying 3GHz Pentium 4

New PC chip will provide hyper threading, a high-end feature previously available in servers in workstations.

Intel Corp. is preparing to release this week its 3GHz Pentium 4 chip, which will include hyperthreading technology designed to enhance performance by up to 30 percent.

The Santa Clara, Calif., chip maker declined to comment on the release of the chip, although the company has said it expected to release it this quarter. However, sources close to the company said PCs featuring the Pentium 4 could appear as early as this week.

The new chip continues Intels push to bump up the speed of its processors—the fastest Pentium currently runs at 2.8GHz—but the key feature will be the hyperthreading, which until this point has appeared in Xeon chips for workstations and servers earlier this year.

The technology enables software to take greater advantage of untapped computer power within a processor. With hyperthreading, the applications view a single processor as two virtual CPUs, allowing Intels chips to process more streams of data—or threads—than they otherwise would.

Intel demonstrated the new chip with hyperthreading at its Intel Developers Forum in September. At the show, the hyperthreading appeared most advantageous in multitasking, where PCs were operating several programs in different applications at the same time.

During the conference, Intel President Paul Otellini said that next year 25 percent of all Intel-based PCs shipped will feature hyperthreading, as will 60 percent of all workstations and 80 percent of Intel-based servers. Eventually hyperthreading will be in all Intel chips, Otellini said.