Intel Introduces New Quad-Core Chip

It wasn’t that long ago — July 2006 — when Intel shook things up with the release of a dual-core chip. At least that’s how it feels in people time. Yet here I sit — I admit in awe — reading a review from PC Magazine on the brand new Intel quad-core chip. The Core 2 Extreme Q6700 quad-core processor is built using two Core 2 Duo dies, meaning that the QX6700 is essentially two dual-core CPUs in a single package. Why do we care? This allows it to look like a single processor, which is important for operating system licensing. Microsoft counts the sockets, not the number of cores, in Windows licensing. That can mean huge savings.

Kentsfield, the code name for the new quad-core chip, doesn’t yet do much for you and me. It will be used more for gaming applications. But with all the “housekeeping” that XP and upcoming VISTA perform in the background, it promises to significantly boost operating speeds by assisting and speeding those processes.

Eventually, when applications we use are built to take advantage of the quad-core (we’re still waiting for them to take advantage of the dual-core), it will provide some amazing performance gains. The key words for applications which can take advantage of the technology are those which are “threaded”. Thus far, as mentioned, gaming applications are being written with threading to take advantage of the additional CPU processing.

Not all motherboards will support the quad-core CPU. Eventually the number which do will increase, and this chip will be incorporated into the PCs we normally purchase. You’ve probably noticed that TV commercials are now starting to emphasize “off the line” dual-core chips. In the not-so-distant future those commercials will tout the quad-core.

So for right now, let’s just note this technological benchmark achievement as something which will eventually trickle down to our user level with some amazing and blazingly fast performance enhancements. And keep your antennae tuned to any applications presented as “multi-threaded” in design, as you know they will be capable of taking advantage of the extra processing power.


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