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Intel to name desktop dual-core processor "Pentium D"

San Francisxo (CA) - Intel continues its aggressive pace on the way to the introduction of its first dual-core proessor. On the first day of the Intel Developer Forum, the company provided nuts and bolts on its processor roadmap, formally announcing new brandnames, upcoming platforms and new chipset features such as integrated support for dual graphics cards.

After months of speculation and bits and pieces of information on dual-core processors, Intel Vice President Stephen Smith explained details about its multiple excution unit approach that willa llow the firm to continue the legacy of Moore's Law. The firm's dual-core platform will launch in the second quarter with the Pentium Extreme Edition 840 and the 955X chipset as well as The Pentium D processor that formerly was know by the code name Smithfield and will use the 800-series sequence number.

Intel claims the new Pentium EE 840 will achieve the performance of a dual-processor workstation of 2004. In comparison to the current EE model, the 840 model runs at a lower clock speed (3.2 GHz) integrates half the cache per core (1 MByte) and supports only the 800 MHz FSB instead of the 1066 MHz of the single-core FSB. The Extreme Edition will drop the "Pentium 4" name and carry over the sequence number. The EE 840 will remain the only Extreme Edition Pentium at least for the remainder of this year.

As the performance-focused platform, the 955X chipset will introduce several new featues such as performance memory optimizations as well as an integration of a dual x16 connect with support for dual graphics cards - a feature that goes head-to-head with Nvidia's SLI technology.

The Pentium D processor will be introduced as long-term replacement for the current Pentium 4 platform. Initially a performance-oriented chip, the 800-series will quickly make its way into the mainstream and become Intel's volume product. While Smithfield will be a single-die or "monolithic" processor, future processors such as its 65 nm Presler chip will be true multichip processors with at least two dies within one package. While Intel remains quiet about the advantages of the two-die future approach, but sources indicated that the integration of separate dies decreases complexity of the processor an may allow Intel to lift clock speed of chip.

So far unclear is still the role of the future of single-core processors. The road-map still lists the 65 nm Pentium 4 successor "Cedar Mill". According to Smith, single cores will co-exist withd dual-cores for "some time." While Cedar Mill is likely to still use the Pentium brand and will carry over the 2 MByte cache from the current 600-series, the single-core product line will take on the role of Intel's low-end offering and is speculated to be limited to the Celeron brand down the road.

Hyperthreading also remains a topic of the new processors that will help the Intel to increase the number of processed threads per chip. In the foreseeable tme, the company expects threads to increase from 2 today (2 threads, one core) two eight (2 cores and 4 threads or 4 cores and two threads). Servers will stay ahead of the desktop offering up to 32 threads per processor (8 cores, 4 threads) by the end of this decade.