Intel plans debut of 3-GHz desktop PC chip

Intel plans to introduce on Thursday a 3-GHz PC chip that incorporates hyperthreading technology, which automatically maximizes processor resources across multiple applications.

Spokesmen for Dell Computer Corp. and Hewlett-Packard Co. indicated that they would introduce new desktop PCs incorporating Intel's new chip, which was confirmed today by Intel spokeswoman Amy Hamilton.

Lionel Menchaca, a spokesman for Round Rock, Texas-based Dell, said that while the new chip boasts only an incremental performance boost over the highest-speed chip in the line, which operates at 2.8 GHz, it is the first desktop chip that incorporates the hyperthreading technology.

Steve Asbjornsen, manager of business demand creation for the desktop platforms group at Intel, said hyperthreading enables a desktop equipped with a single processor to "act like it is a two-processor system." He said hyperthreading achieves this performance boost by allocating unused resources to background applications, such as virus scanning. Intel intends to spread the hyperthreading architecture over its "mainstream [PC] client base next year," Asbjornsen said.

Menchaca said hyperthreading technology incorporated in the 3-GHz chip would provide users with "real benefits" beyond the minimal gain in processor power between the 2.8- and 3-GHz chip. He added that hyperthreading will allow users to run a word processing application, for example, while at the same time converting PowerPoint files into Portable Document Format files in the background with no degradation in performance. He said Dell would release desktops with the new chip soon, but he wouldn't be more specific.

Dave Albritton, an HP spokesman, said buyers seeking PCs incorporating the new chip should "expect to see new offerings from us in the near future." He also declined to say when HP planned to introduce the new, high-powered desktops.

Hamilton said a number of PC manufacturers plan to introduce desktops based on the 3-GHz chip this week.

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