• United States

Intel sets sights on parallel processing

Sep 13, 20043 mins

Intel and the PC industry are about to go through a major change in the way client computers are designed, built and marketed, said Intel President and COO Paul Otellini during his introductory speech at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco last week.

Otellini officially pronounced the megahertz era dead. Intel has shifted gradually over the past two years from its former marketing strategy based on ever-increasing clock speeds to a plan that improves performance with new features and technologies. The company will focus on parallel processing with future products, Otellini said. This will include multicore processors, virtualization technology and a continuation of Intel’s hyperthreading technology.

Analysts had hoped that Intel would provide more details about plans to introduce dual-core processors next year, which it announced in May. Otellini did not take the bait, declining to even provide the code names of the upcoming processors. He did reiterate that the company would introduce dual-core chips for desktops, servers and notebooks in 2005, with most of the growth coming in 2006.

However, in a briefing with reporters after his speech, Otellini confirmed that Yonah will be the code name for Intel’s first dual-core notebook chip. He also indicated that more details about the dual-core server chip will be disclosed this week but that Intel does not plan to talk about the dual-core desktop chip at this 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 out 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 less than half of all desktop chips in that time frame containing two cores.

The company also needs to address what will happen to the per-processor software-licensing model that is the standard for most application vendors, said Gordon Haff, an analyst at Illuminata. It’s unclear what will happen to that model as chipmakers introduce products with multiple cores and virtualization technologies, he said.

In the meantime, Intel will continue to bring new features to its chips. It has introduced hyperthreading and 64-bit extensions, and plans to bring virtualization and security features to its chips. Otellini demonstrated a digital office PC that could run different applications and operating systems on a single chip with Vanderpool, Intel’s virtualization 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, the next generation of the Windows operating system, is expected to be released in 2006.

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

The company announced that samples of its first Wi-Max chip are shipping to networking companies. Over the next year, Intel’s Rosedale chip will appear in Wi-Max products that can deliver broadband wireless signals over a 30-mile range.

Krazit is a correspondent with the IDG News Service.