Two years after it introduced its hyper-threading (HT) technology, Intel last week celebrated having shipped 50 million PC, mobile and server processors.
HT technology allows a single processor to be seen by the operating system and certain applications as two virtual processors. This allows the processor to work on two separate tasks simultaneously. In reality, HT enables the second application to access processing power not being used by the first application.
According to Intel, the performance gain is more than 20 per cent, independent of processor clock speed. The arrival of HT also marked Intel's U-turn on its previous marketing stance that processor clock-speed was the most important factor in determining PC performance.
Louis Burns, general manager of Intel's desktop platforms group, said: "We created hyper-threading technology with two main objectives in mind.
"The first was to provide a boost in computing performance beyond clock speed in a platform-centric manner to manage a variety of tasks and commands simultaneously.
"Secondly, the technology was our initial foray into parallel processing, to better prepare the industry for the inevitable move to multi-core processors and computers."
Rival AMD has also been celebrating, prefacing its upcoming third-quarter results with news that profits will be better than expected. According to Robert Rivet, AMD's chief financial officer, sales will be down slightly but profits will be up from the $32m predicted.
"Our gross margin and net income are expected to improve sequentially from the second quarter of 2004, largely due to significantly higher sales in our processor business," Rivet said.
"Although third-quarter sales are anticipated to be lower than projected due to softness in our profitable Flash memory business, sales in our microprocessor business remained strong, driven by increased demand for AMD64 processors."
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