Microprocessor giant Intel briefed reporters last week about plans to evolve its x86 products in a direction that more closely matches that of the software industry. In addition to a suite of chips designed for the enterprise market, Intel will also ship so-called designer processors that will feature new technology extensions that take advantage of the unique features in Longhorn, the next major version of Windows.
  
A set of product extensions, code-named the T family, will pair Intel's HyperThreading (HT) technology with the company's x64-compatible 64-bit extensions, which the company calls Intel Extended Memory 64 Technology (EM64T). Intel will apply these extensions to a generation of desktop chips that the company will begin selling in 2005; today, the EM64T technology is available only in certain high-end Xeon and Pentium 4 designs.
  
In 2006, Intel will augment its chips with two further extensions code-named LaGrande Technology (LT) and Vanderpool Technology/Silverdale Technology (VT/ST). LT focuses on security, whereas VT/ST provides virtualization features. Intel says it will release both extensions to coincide with Longhorn's release in mid-2006.
  
"LT creates a hardware foundation on the client PC platform that can help protect the confidentiality and integrity of data stored or created from software based attacks," a document on Intel's Web site explains. "It does this by enabling an environment where applications can run within their own space, protected from all other software on the system. In turn, this can help to protect vital data and processes from being compromised by malicious software running on the platform."
  
The VT/ST technology appears to be a next-generation version of HT that further subdivides the processing power of one microprocessor into multiple chunks that can be accessed independently, as if they were individual processors. The idea is that one chip with dual cores can function as the center of a digital home, providing processing services to multiple connected services and devices.