Intel urges developers to start hyperthreading

SAN JOSE — Hyperthreading, multi-core processors and hardware security will be pervasive among processors from Intel Corp., and developers should focus on designing for those technologies, the company’s president and chief operating officer

said Tuesday.

In his keynote at the Intel Developer Forum, Paul Otellini also touched on the “”viral”” growth of WiFi technology, wireless metropolitan area network technology and the convergence of communications and computing.

The four “”industry-shaping”” Intel technologies that will drive innovation are hyperthreading, low-power mobile computing chips, in-hardware security enhancements and hardware partitioning, Otellini said.

Hyperthreading — a technology that allows two processing “”threads”” to take place on a single processor by making use of wait-time clock cycles — is now aboard all Intel server products, and will grace half of its performance desktop products by the end of the year.

Dual-core chips — with two multithreading processors, or four virtual processors, on a single chip — and multi-core processors are waiting in the wings, but Otellinin wouldn’t give timelines for Montecito, a dual-core 64-bit Itanium processor, or Tanglewood, a multi-core chip being worked on by the Alpha design team Intel acquired from Compaq three years ago.

Software developers “”need to assume that threading is pervasive,”” Otellini said. About 100 client applications are threaded now, and an Intel study of 1,000 applications showed 90 per cent would benefit from a threaded design, Otellini said.

Future chips will feature hardware security technology that works with software to protect machines, according to Intel fellow Bryan Bigbee. Intel’s LaGrande initiative will produce hardware that prevents keyboard-sniffing, graphics card captures and remote memory dumps to intruding machines in the next two to three years, Bigbee said.

Intel also plans to introduce “”Vanderpool”” technology — partitioning on a chip — within five years. It would allow a single processor to function as two different machines. For example, it could play streaming media uninterrupted in one software environment while a second software environment was rebooted. In an enterprise environment, this could be used as a tool for migrating applications and operating systems without interrupting processes on client machines, Otellini said.

Otellini said a new WiFi access point is being installed every four seconds and a new wireless NIC every second. “”This is nothing short of viral growth,”” Otellini said.

Intel’s wireless vision integrates various radio technologies — WiFi, Bluetooth, GSM and coming ultra wideband (UWB) technologies — and culminates in a concept called cognitive radio. Wireless devices would be aware of their environment, and choose the most appropriate connection of the available technologies, director of communications and interconnect technology lab Steve Pawlowski said in an earlier press briefing.

UWB is a broad spectrum (0.5 to 7 GHz), low-power wireless technology with a range of up to 10 metres. It’s maximum 1 Gbps datacom speed makes it suitable as a wireless peripheral bus.

But there are regulatory hurdles. Intel wants dynamic assignment of frequency spectrum — like unused TV channels — so low-powered devices can use them when other traffic isn’t.

Pawlowski said to expect wireless metropolitan area network products based on the 802.16 standard in the next two years. WiMax devices would deliver broadband transmission over a 30-kilometre range– a virtual wireless backhaul and a last-mile solution for remote and rural areas.

Comment: info@itbusiness.ca

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Dave Webb
Dave Webb
Dave Webb is a technology journalist with more than 15 years' experience. He has edited numerous technology publications including Network World Canada, ComputerWorld Canada, Computing Canada and eBusiness Journal. He now runs content development shop Dweeb Media.

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