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Intel goes desktop hyperthreading chipset crazy

Seeds market for 3.06GHz P4

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Intel today introduced four new P4 chipsets, all supporting hyperthreading. This positions the company and its OEMs nicely in advance of the launch later this year of the 3.06GHz P4, Intel's first desktop chip to actually have hyperthreading switched on.

Hyperthreading (HT in Intel shorthand) enables software programs to run as though there are two processors when there is only one CPU physically in place, Intel notes. However, the performance improvement does not double - a gain of around 25 per cent is achieved on desktop processors, and up to 30 per cent - but often less - on servers, Intel says. Also, developers need to write their apps for multithreading for users to gain full benefits from the technology.

According to Louis Burns, head of Intel's desktop platforms group, Intel is "very proud of these new chipsets. Not only will they dramatically enrich a PC user's experience today; they also provide the platform foundation for our upcoming HT Technology."

Today's four new chipsets are an enhanced 850E chipset and the new Intel 845GE, 845PE and 845GV and they are pitched at mobo makers building boards for performance PCs. And in case they don't get the message - unlikely, boards using the new chipsets are already in volume production worldwide - Chipzilla is also flogging six system boards featuring the new chipsets, four in ATX size, and two in mini-ATX.

And so to the chipsets: first up, the enhanced Intel 850e. This now supports dual-channel PC 1066 RDRAM memory - Intel has taken an age to validate this. But it is gracious towards Rambus, the designer of RDRAM, in today's announcement, proclaiming that 1066 RDRAM memory delivers "the highest-performing Pentium 4 processor-based platforms". The 850e costs $40 in 1,000 unit quantities.

Next up we have the three new members of the 845 chipset family. These are all supplied with six USB 2.0 ports and enhanced AC' 97 audio implementation with dual independent DMA audio engines. And they all support DDR memory, the two more expensive playing catch-up with SiS and VIA, and supporting DDR333.

The 845GE is an integrated graphics chipset supporting 266MHz graphics clock speed for its Intel Extreme Graphics engine, 533 MHz or 400 MHz system bus, and - for the first time (from Intel) - in volume support DDR333. In OEM quantities, it costs $37.

And now to the 845PE, a chipset supporting higher-end discrete graphics. It supports DDR333 and AGP4x graphics - which is not exactly bleeding edge, with AGP8x starting to gather a head of steam. It costs $34 in orders of 1,000.

Last and, literally, least, the 845GV. Supporting DDR266 memory and the 533MHz or 400MHz bus, this chipset costs $28 in OEM quantities. ®

Links, review, articles

Intel's chipset home page
Intel's four new chipsets press release
Intel's 845PE and 845GE chipsets: review from The Tech Report
Intel outs Prescott, demos 4GHz desktop
HyperThreading scores are Hyper-perplexing
Why isn't SMT Xeon scaling?
What the hell is HyperThreading?
Ars Technica:Introduction to Multithreading, Superthreading and Hyperthreading

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