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Intel Corp. confirmed on Monday its launch of desktop processors enabled with the company’s virtualization technology, a feature that enables consumers with richer functionality and businesses with improved security. The company proclaims broad availability of processors with virtualization, but initially there are only two models available from a handful of computer makers.

“Analysts believe virtualization is one of the most disruptive technologies to the PC in a decade, and our technology combined with our industry enabling efforts are going to help bring this into the mainstream,” said Robert B. Crooke, vice president and general manager of Intel’s business client group.

Intel’s Processors with Virtualization Available

Intel Pentium 4 models 672 and 662 are the first to support Intel virtualization technology. The new chips operate at 3.80GHz and 3.60GHz, respectively, integrate 2MB of cache, come in LGA775 form-factor and use 800MHz processor system bus. The new processors naturally support 64-bit capability, execute disable bit (EDB) for additional security, Intel Hyper-Threading, Enhanced Intel Speed-Step (EIST) technology and other already available functions.

The new chips are drop-in compatible with the current infrastructure, such as mainboards based on Intel 945 and Intel 955 chipsets, but in order to take advantage of the virtualization technology users should have appropriate BIOS, virtual monitor machine (VMM), such as virtualization solutions from Microsoft, VMware or Xen, and, in some cases special platform software.

Desktop personal computers (PCs) based on the Intel Pentium 4 processor 672 and 662 processors with the virtualization technology are available today on systems being offered by Acer, Founder, Lenovo and TongFang. The Intel Pentium 4 processor 672 and 662 are priced at $605 and $401 respectively, in 1000-unit quantities.

Virtualization Brings Benefits to Businesses, Consumers

Virtualization allows a platform to run multiple operating systems or applications in independent partitions or “containers” that can be tailored for specific needs such as IT management services and protecting networked assets.

With virtualization support, businesses can maintain full control of a portion of a PC to run security or management services without interrupting the end-user or allowing them to easily tamper with critical applications. Businesses can better protect themselves from malicious code or viruses by filtering network traffic through a separate IT partition before it reaches the user.

The benefits of virtualization can also extend to home and entertainment activities. In the future, home PC users will be able to create virtual “partitions” isolating several user environments such as dedicated Web browsing resources, productivity software applications, personal video recorders and offering service providers access for remote diagnosis and repairs, Intel said.

Intel Plans More Chips with Virtualization

Intel also promised to deliver an innovative professional business platform that features dual-core processors, Intel Active Management Technology (AMT) together with virtualization support code-named Averill later in 2006. Virtualization capabilities will also be extended to notebook PCs, and the company will first support this through Intel Centrino mobile technology-based platforms in 2006. Intel’s latest Xeon MP processors already sport virtualization, whereas Intel Itanium 2 chips are to acquire the capability in mid-2006.

Intel’s arch-rival AMD also preps processors with virtualization.

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