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Intel to launch fastest Pentium 4

San Francisco, Nov. 12 (Reuters): Intel Corp will this week start selling its fastest-yet Pentium 4 that also tricks software into thinking that there are two chips in a PC—speeding up programs and boosting overall computer performance, the company and analysts said on Monday.

Intel will announce later this week “the industry’s first 3-gigahertz processor” with “two virtual chips inside one,” Paul Otellini, Intel’s president and chief operating officer said at an Oracle Corp customer conference here.

Intel declined to comment on the exact timing of the announcement.

The new 3-gigahertz Pentium 4 will feature what Intel calls Hyper-Threading technology, which makes one processor appear as if it were two processors to operating-system software and applications, analysts said, boosting performance as much as 25 per cent on certain software programs.

Intel first offered Hyper-Threading in its Xeon processors for servers and workstations in February and is now adding it to desktop processors for the first time. Dual-processor systems, which have two separate chips that function as the “brains” of a PC or server, are considered cost-prohibitive to most PC users.

“With some smoke and mirrors and a little bit of additional hardware on the chip, an extra 3 or 4 per cent of increased hardware, they are making it look like there are two processors instead of one,” said Nathan Brookwood, principal analyst at Insight 64, a market research firm and consultancy in Saratoga, California.

This will not only speed up applications, but also prevent computers from stalling when several applications are running simultaneously, Brookwood said.

Multi-tasking simpler

For example, systems can appear to freeze up when a user is multi-tasking, using two applications simultaneously, forcing the processor to switch back and forth between the applications. Examples include surfing the Web when anti- virus software kicks in or sending e-mail while encoding video.

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