Multitasking chips could improve performance 30%

Intel has announced a new technology that allows a single processor to manage data as if it were two processors. The chip giant...

Intel has announced a new technology that allows a single processor to manage data as if it were two processors. The chip giant claims this could improve system performance by up to 30%, writes Daniel Thomas.

Hyper Threading technology - formerly known as Jackson Technology - handles data instructions in parallel rather than one at a time. This allows systems to manage incoming data from different software applications. It does this by continuously switching from one set of data instructions to the other every few nanoseconds without losing track of the data processing status of each set of instructions.

Intel said tests have shown that Hyper Threading can significantly improve the number of users and Web transactions that Intel-based servers can handle simultaneously. The technology will be aimed at PC, workstation and server users who run unique applications concurrently.

The announcement underlines Intel's strategic shift away from simply developing ever-increasing processor speeds to creating technology focused on specific market segments and computing models.

Brian Gammage, an analyst at Gartner Group, said he believes the real advantage of Hyper Threading will not be the improvement in performance, but the decrease in power consumption. He added that the emergence of third generation input/output technology - serial architecture that increases the speed of the flow of information travelling through the computer - would be key to seeing real performance improvements.

"If the operating system can do multiple-thread executions on input/output, the server will be capable of doing a lot more than simply running the network," said Gammage.

Speaking at the Intel Developer Forum last week, Paul Otellini, executive vice-president and general manager of the Intel Architecture Group, said, "Intel's Hyper Threading technology effectively enables multiprocessing on a single chip.

"The significant jump in performance that this technology enables will enhance processors in all segments of the computing industry and allow users to maximise their processing power."

Hyper Threading technology is due to be released in Intel's 32-bit Xeon processors for servers in 2002. The company plans to incorporate it into a variety of Intel products over the next few years. "We are expanding our focus to include the fundamental technologies and chip design features that will deliver greater value and functionality to users," said Otellini.

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