Intel pins Pentium 4 hopes on hyperthreading

Intel's sales manager for Australia and New Zealand, Philip Cronin, agrees that everyone seems blase about processor speeds. However, Intel is hanging its hopes for its new chipset not on its speed but on a technology it calls 'hyperthreading'.

Intel's sales manager for Australia and New Zealand, Philip Cronin, agrees that everyone seems blasé about processor speeds.

"It took us 18 years to get to 1GHz, then 18 months to reach 2GHz and now we're past 3GHz. It's become commonplace," says Cronin at the Auckland media launch of the new Pentium 4 3.06GHz chipset.

However, Intel is hanging its hopes for the new chipset not on its speed but on a technology it calls "hyperthreading" that fools applications into thinking the system has two chips instead of one. Intel claims this has enormous potential for combating so-called application creep - where apps require more and more processing power to operate in the background.

"Anti-virus software has doubled its demand for processor power in the last few years," says Cronin who demonstrated two identical P 4 machines, one with hyperthreading turned on and one turned off, both running an anti-virus sweep combined with a PowerPoint presentation. The machine with hyperthreading turned off ran significantly slower than with it switched on.

Intel's pitch is aimed at the business user trying to sell new PCs to senior management.

"It's not enough to say 'this is new', you have to be able to demonstrate to the CFO and the CEO that it increases productivity."

Locally, PC Company and NEC have P4 offerings available at launch. Both offer high-end spec machines. PC Company's has a 15 inch flat panel monitor and a CD Writer along with DVD drive for $3999 plus GST. All the major OEMs are expected to release their P4 systems in the weeks to come.

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