Intel's Pentium IV Optimizes Web Experience

Anticipating that tomorrow's Internet experience will be rich in audio/visual content, Intel last week introduced a brand-new platform for its Pentium-class Desktop PC processors, the Pentium IV.

Announced at the Intel Developer Forum in San Jose, Calif., the Pentium IV processor is outfitted to take on such Internet-related tasks as video and audio streaming, 3D visualization, improved data encryption, and the data-rich requirements of peer-to-peer computer networking recently popularised by companies such as Napster.com.

Scheduled to arrive later this year, with a minimum speed of 1.4GHz, the Pentium IV utilizes a new architecture called NetBurst, which is comprised of several advanced subsystems.

One of those subsystems, the Rapid Execution Engine, routes redundant tasks, such as basic math calculations, off the main processor and runs them at twice the speed of the CPU rating. Taking such tasks off the shoulders of the main processor enables the chip to concentrate more on the primary task of the application, thus increasing performance, according to Albert Yu, senior vice president and general manager of the Intel Architecture Group.

Another subsystem within the Pentium IV, called Advanced Dynamic Execution, increases the efficiency of the Pentium IV by allowing the processor to run commands out of their assigned order, a "level of guesswork normally done by the compiler on bigger computers," Yu said.

Forty-two million transistors dense, the Pentium IV also packs an advanced transfer cache, a 400MHz system bus, hyperpipelined technology for faster on-chip throughput, and an upgraded Version 2 Streaming SIMD (single instruction multiple data) Extension, which offers faster frame rates for enhanced video quality, according to Yu.

Nathan Brookwood, an analyst at Insight 64, based in Saratoga, Calif., believes Intel will continue to upgrade the Pentium III, possibly all the way to 0.13-micron architecture.

The Pentium III, currently architectured to 0.18-microns, is established processor technology that will provide revenues that the Pentium IV will not see for some time, Brookwood said.

Extended applications for the Pentium IV will include e-business, knowledge management, data mining and visualization, telephony, and security. A number of the Pentium IV's internal technologies will also be applied to future advances in networking, Yu said.

Pentium IV pricing is not currently available.

Intel developments

The wide variety of new products and technologies introduced at last week's Intel Developer Forum reflect Intel's broad range of investments in the Internet economy.

* The 1GHz Xeon processor: A faster chip for front-end and general-purpose servers* The GigaBlade OC-48: A hardware adapter that adds network intelligence by connecting IA servers to optical networks, with the potential to create a new breed of online, billable services* XScale architecture: A low-power, high-performance chip design spec for wireless devices* Intel Media Switches: A new family of devices for voice/video/data integration over Ethernets* The InfiniBand Development Kit: Includes host adapters, switches, and supporting software for InfiniBand, the switched fabric connectivity solution expected by year's end* Flash Data Integrator Software: Helps designers ready handheld devices for Internet-level data storage* A USB 2.0 Integration Lab: Testing facility to ensure compliance and interoperability with USB 2.0 specification.

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