Intel Developer Forum - Parallel processing set to take off

Intel and the PC industry are about to go through a major change in the way client computers are designed, built and marketed.

Intel and the PC industry are about to go through a major change in the way client computers are designed, built and marketed.

Intel chief operating officer Paul Otellini pronounced the megahertz era dead at the Fall Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco.

The chip giant has gradually shifted away from ever-increasing clock speeds to a plan that improves performance with new features and technologies over the past two years.

Intel will focus on parallel processing with future products, Otellini said. This will include multicore processors, virtualisation technology and a continuation of Intel's hyperthreading technology, he said.

Analysts had been hoping that Intel would provide more details about plans to introduce dual-core processors in 2005, which it abruptly announced in May.

Otellini reiterated that the company would introduce dual-core chips for desktops, servers and notebooks in 2005, with most of the growth coming in 2006.

He confirmed that Yonah will be the code name for Intel's first dual-core notebook chip. He also indicated that more details around the dual-core server chip will be disclosed at the show.

As promised, Intel demonstrated a dual-core processor. An Itanium 2 server from Silicon Graphics was shown running a weather modeling application on Montecito, Intel's previously disclosed dual-core Itanium 2 processor. Montecito is due to arrive in 2005.

The move to dual-core processors will proceed much faster for notebook and server processors. Otellini said. More than 75% of Intel's 2006 shipments in those categories will be dual-core chips, with just under half of all desktop chips in that time frame containing two cores, he said.

Intel will continue to bring new features to its chips. It has already introduced hyperthreading and 64-bit extensions, and plans to bring virtualisation and security features to its chips in the future.

Otellini demonstrated a digital office PC that could run different applications and operating systems on a single chip with Vanderpool, Intel's virtualisation technology.

Vanderpool and LaGrande, Intel's code-name for a digital-rights management technology, will not ship in Intel products until Microsoft releases Longhorn, Otellini said. Longhorn is the next generation of the Windows operating system, which is expected in 2006.

Otellini also discussed the WiMax broadband wireless technology, a development that Intel believes could help bring broadband internet to areas that are not served by fixed broadband lines. WiMax could have the same effect on broadband deployment that cellular phones have had on the deployment of fixed-line phones, Otellini said.

Intel chief technology officer Pat Gelsinger said these are "tough times" for Intel. The company has had several product delays and manufacturing glitches this year, and announced last week that it would not meet its own targets for third-quarter revenue.

The Fall Intel Developer Forum finishes on 9 September.

Tom Krazit writes for IDG News Service

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