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Intel Spotlights Dual-Core and 64-bit Processors at IDF

Intel outlined its product roadmap at Intel Developer Forum (IDF) 2005 in San Francisco. The roadmap includes a heavy emphasis on dual-core processors and 64-bit computing. The 3-day conference began with a keynote address by outgoing CEO Craig Barrett who touted the company's wide range of technology and previewed the chip giant's upcoming releases.

Dual-core technology is a key feature of Intel's product roadmap. The company expects more than 85 percent of its server processors and 70 percent of its desktop processors to be dual core by the end of 2006. Dual-core chips feature two processor cores in one chip, which lets users take advantage of the benefits and performance of having two processors without the additional energy requirements and heat of two processors. Barrett believes that dual-core technology will help the company keep pace with Moore's Law without having to increase a chip's frequency. Moore's Law is a projection by Intel cofounder Gordon Moore back in 1965 that the number of transistors on a chip will double every 2 years.

The first dual-core processors from Intel will ship in the second quarter 2005 with the release of the Pentium Extreme Edition 840 and the new Pentium D chips. The Extreme Edition 840 chip will replace the current generation of Extreme Edition chips, which are aimed at high-end gamers and computer power users. The chip will be a 90-nanometer processor that will run at speeds up to 3.2GHz with 1MB of Level 2 cache on each core with 64-bit extensions. The chip will use Intel's 955x Express chip set and have the ability to run two instruction threads on each core. The Pentium D, formerly code-named Smithfield, will be Intel's mainstream dual-core chip for desktops. The chip will be based on the Pentium 4 architecture with the addition of dual-core technology. It will use Intel's 945 Express chip set and run one instruction thread on each core.

Stephen Smith, vice president of Intel's Digital Enterprise Group, gave details about the company's chip plans for the next 2 years, with enough code names to fill a small dictionary. The Itanium 2 will see dual-core technology by the end of the year with a 64-bit processor code-named Montecito. The release will coincide with a new Itanium 2 chip for 2-way systems, code-named Millington. In 2006, Intel will release the next-generation Itanium chips Montvale and DP Montvale, followed by Tukwila, which is built on the 65-nanometer process, and Dimona. Xeon MP chips will see dual-core technology with the 2006 release of Paxville, followed by the 65-nanometer chip Tulsa, later that year. The Xeon DP processor, code-named Dempsey, also will see dual-core technology in 2006. Next-generation Pentium 4 and Pentium Extreme Edition chips include Pentium D Cedar Mill, which will ship in 2006, and Pentium Extreme Edition Presler, which will ship later this year. The Pentium M mobile chip won't be left behind in the dual-core craze, with a new Yonah chip that will be released in early 2006. The Cedar Mill and Yonah chips will be available in both single- and dual-core versions.

Although slow to embrace 64-bit extensions to the x86 platform, the company is now fully committed to the platform and strongly encourages developers to jump onto the 64-bit bandwagon. Pat Gelsinger, senior vice president and general manager of Intel's Digital Enterprise Group, said that by the end of 2006, the company expects all server processors shipped and more than half the desktop chips shipped to be 64-bit enabled.

Gelsinger was joined during his keynote by Microsoft Group Vice President Jim Allchin, who told the audience that Microsoft expects to ship the 64-bit version of Windows XP by early April. The 64-bit version of Windows Server 2003, along with Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1 (SP1), will ship in late April. Allchin also said the company is committed to supporting Intel's I/O Acceleration technology, virtualization technology, and multicore processors in future versions of Windows.

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