MTV show stars appear with Intel CEO on stage
Jeff Chiu  /  AP
Mike Martin, left, and Mike Megdal, hidden, of the MTV show "Pimp My Ride," show off a car customized with Intel technology to Intel CEO Craig Barrett as part of Barrett's presentation at the Intel Devopler Forum in San Francisco on Tuesday.
updated 3/1/2005 9:06:34 PM ET 2005-03-02T02:06:34

Promising improved performance without greatly increased power needs, Intel Corp. unveiled details Tuesday of upcoming microprocessors that will put two or more computing engines on a single chip.

The world's largest chip maker plans to use the technology across its processor lines, from those powering mobile computers to the brains of high-end servers. In all, Intel has 15 projects under way developing dual-core or multi-core chips.

Intel plans to launch dual-core desktop chips in the second quarter, offering two varieties geared toward high-end and mainstream users, respectively. It's also planning dual-core and multicore chips for servers and notebooks for release later this year and in 2006.

The high-end desktop chip, dubbed the Intel Pentium Processor Extreme Edition, will run at 3.2 gigahertz -- slower than the 3.8 GHz of today's top-of-the-line Pentium 4. Still, during one demonstration, it performed a task in half the time of its single-core counterpart.

Stephen Smith, vice president of Intel's Digital Enterprise Group, said performance improvements will vary depending on the job. Multicore chips offer the greatest improvement when the software is designed to distribute tasks over the multiple engines.

But the technology also should improve performance when multiple programs are running at the same time, he added. All modern PCs typically have several pieces of software working in the background, including antivirus tools, network utilities and others.

Also, the Extreme Edition's cores will use a technology that essentially nearly doubles the amount of work that can be handled by each core. Because of this, the operating system will work as though there are four cores, instead of the physical two.

The mainstream processor, dubbed the Pentium D, won't have that feature enabled. Smith also did not indicate that chip's clock speed.

The new processors' prices were not disclosed.

Intel isn't alone in bringing multicore chips to market. Rival Advanced Micro Devices also has plans to launch dual-core chips later this year.

And a trio of companies -- International Business Machines Corp., Toshiba Corp. and Sony Corp. -- are building a multicore chip based on a completely new architecture. It's expected to power Sony's next-generation PlayStation game console, among other devices.

The industry's move toward multicore processors comes as the number of transistors crammed on a single chip continues to increase in accordance with a famous prediction made by Intel co-founder Gordon Moore in 1965.

But while higher clock speeds are resulting in greater power demands, that is not translating into major gains in performance, threatening the historical growth in computing capabilities.

"It's the way the industry is going to be able to continue Moore's Law going forward by increasing the processing power in an exponential fashion over time," Intel CEO Craig Barrett told reporters at the company's forum for developers.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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