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Intel speeds 'multiple OS' desktop CPU schedule

Does 2005 debut point to 'Smithfield'?

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Intel has made public a preliminary version of its 'Vanderpool' virtualisation technology specification in a bid to boost support for the technique.

It also said it will bring Vanderpool to the desktop a year earlier than originally planned. The technology will now appear in Pentium-class processors later this year.

Vanderpool essentially allows a single processor to run multiple operating systems - or multiple instances of the same OS - simultaneously. It's a technique long used on mainframe systems, and Intel has been keen to bring the approach to its own server-oriented processors, particularly Itanium.

But it reckons there's a benefit for desktop systems too, so while Vanderpool was originally conceived as a server technology, it's now going to be offered at the client side, a commitment the chip giant made in September 2003. Indeed, the IA-64 version was soon renamed 'Silvervale' to distinguish it from the IA-32 implementation.

Vanderpool's sooner-than-planned release could well co-incide with the debut of 'Smithfield', Intel's upcoming dual-core Pentium processor, due to ship mid-2005. There's certainly scope to use the two cores - each with HyperThreading support, yielding effectively four virtual processors in the package - to run multiple OS partitions. Intel's Vanderpool blurb hints at a close relationship with multi-core architectures. It's still not due to appear in the Xeon line until 2006.

Intel is pitching Vanderpool as a way of separating out gaming, digital content editing, and other home entertainment functionality, such as personal video recording, to maximise the system resources available to each. That view neatly ties in with the kind of focus Smithfield and its ancillary components - coming together in a Centrino-esque platform codenamed 'East Fork' - is expected to show.

The preliminary Vanderpool specification can be found here. ®

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