Intel has released its latest desktop processor, the first in its Pentium 4 family to break the 3GHz speed barrier.
The new chip, which has a clock speed of 3.06GHz, is also the first Pentium 4 to feature a technology the company calls "hyperthreading". Already built into its Xeon range of server processors, the technology allows multiple software threads to run more efficiently on a single processor.
For users, the technology should translate into a performance benefit of up to 30 per cent, according to recent presentations given by Intel executives, but this also depends on whether support for hyperthreading is built into the operating system and software. Some versions of Linux and Microsoft's Windows XP feature support, but earlier editions of Windows do not, while application software support is limited.
The first tests of the new chip also showed results to be mixed at best.
The chip costs $US637 in bulk quantities of 1,000 units, a significant premium over Intel's second-fastest desktop processor, the 2.8GHz version of its Pentium 4. The price of that chip was reduced earlier this week to $US401 from $US508, the price at which it was introduced in August.
Coinciding with the launch, several PC vendors announced systems featuring the new processor. In Japan, NEC, Epson Direct, Sotec and Fujitsu all announced products featuring the new processor. In the US, Dell and HP have said they plan to introduce machines featuring the chip.