Intel looks to hyper-threading

Intel has unveiled new processor technology that will enable a single processor to emulate faster two-processor systems.

Intel has unveiled new processor technology that will enable a single processor to emulate faster two-processor systems.

Paul Otellini, the executive vice-president and general manager of the Intel Architecture Group, unveiled the hyper-threading technology during his keynote speech at the company's Intel Developer Forum. Hyper-threading, also known as Simultaneous Multi-Threading (SMT), allows a single processor to act as two processors, increasing performance in the process.

"We've seen performance gains of as much as 20% to 30%," said Abhi Talwalkar, the vice-president and assistant general manager of Intel's Enterprise Platforms Group. In addition, Intel is developing tools to take advantage of the technology, he said.

The first systems using Intel's hyper-threading technology will be Xeon-based and will appear next year.

Intel also provided details of its 64-bit processor roadmap. The next processor in Intel's Itanium 64-bit family, code-named McKinley, is expected next year.

"It's going through verification and validation in the labs right now," Talwalkar said. "And we will see significant performance gains as McKinley comes forward on platforms."

McKinley will boast several advances over Itanium, including an increased bus speed from 133MHz on the current processor to 200MHz. The bus frequency is the speed of data passing between the processor and the system's memory. Code compiled for Itanium will run between 150% and 200% faster on McKinley, Talwalkar said. The difference will be even greater if applications are re-compiled to run on McKinley.

After McKinley will come Madison, due in 2003, Talwalkar said. "Madison is taking McKinley and moving it to 0.13 micron, enabling us to have a larger memory cache. While Itanium has a 4Mbyte cache, Madison is expected to have up to 6M bytes of on-die cache.

Intel also expects another processor, code-named Deerfield, to be available from 2003. Deerfield will be targeted at the 1U (1.75-inch) and 2U server market.

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