SAN FRANCISCO — The arrival of dual-core processors will bring the parallel computing power necessary to virtualize enterprise IT environments and ease manageability issues for CIOs, executives said at the Intel Developer Forum.
Speaking to a crowd of approximately 5,500 software firms and industry
partners, Intel president Paul Otellini promised dual-core additions to its product line that would span its high-end Itanium chips to the Xeon server products and Pentium desktop products. Dual-core chips are designed to significantly increase performance without increasing power consumption, a key concern among original equipment manufacturers and developers. By 2006, Otellini said he expected more than 40 per cent of Intel desktop chips to contain two cores and 85 per cent of its server chips. These products will also include hyperthreading, a technology that takes some of the unused circuitry (called “”registers””) on the chip and fools the system into thinking it is running on a dual processor. Hyperthreaded or multi-threaded CPUs could either run two or more applications at once (by using both the floating point integer and the graphics unit, for example), or make a single application run faster.
Otellini said dual-core processors and hyperthreading would usher in an era of “”parallel personal computing”” whereby computers will first recognize a piece of data, mine for context in an archive and then synthesize it into meaningful information. For example, a financial services company could create an application that would learn to spot a hedge fund and then factor in what would happen when interest rates change. Desktop applications of this nature would require 50 Gigaflops of processing speed, as opposed to the five to seven available on high-end PCs today.
“”Instead of thinking about how many chips are on the computer, you’re going to start thinking about how many computers are on a chip,”” Otellini said.
Intel is planning to embed features in future processors and chip sets that will facilitate parallelism, Otellini said. These include Vanderpool, a technology that will allow developers to build systems that virtualize end user systems into four partitions. One of these might be devoted to corporate applications, another to personal computing applications.
Intel is not the only company working on a dual-core product. IBM unveiled a dual-core version of its Power chip earlier this year, while Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) has already started demonstrating a server-based version of a dual-core Opteron. Intel’s demonstration focused instead on a dual-core Itanium, which sells in lower volumes and has been in the works for some time. In a question-and-answer session following his keynote speech, however, Otellini told Computing Canada he isn’t afraid of falling behind in the development process.
“”This isn’t a race. This is a sea change in computing,”” he said. “”I’m happy to see our prime competitor is embracing this move because it shows we’re moving in the right direction.””
Intel is also launching the Cross-Platform Manageability Program, which will seek to create standard ways of supporting common and consistent manageability capabilities, interfaces, and protocols across all Intel platforms, including cell phones and servers. Otellini expects the company to release a public industry specification with input from developers at the spring IDF in 2005.