Intel Adds Hyper-Threading to Pentium CPUs
Samuel Wan / 4 years ago
2017 is looking to be a major year for the x86 market like none since the introduction of the Core series. With Ryzen just around the corner, AMD struck gold with their Zen architecture finally being able to offer strong competition against Intel. In an effort to bolster their offerings as well as respond to the changing times, Intel has now decided to offer Hyper-Threading on their Kaby Lake Pentium processors.
Since we first got Pentium processors under the Core i branding, their main differentiator against the Core i3 chips was the lack of Hyper-Threading. Both offered dual cores but if you wanted the ability to have 4 threads, Core i3 was the way to go. With this change, Pentium is pretty much on par with i3 for most users. One remaining difference is that some i3’s feature 4MB of L3 cache while all the Pentiums are still on 3MB.
In an effort to differentiate the two, Intel has disabled AVX2, instructions generally useful for database processing and video editing. However, it’s unlikely anyone using a Pentium or i3 would be planning for these workloads. For most budget users, the Pentium just became a whole lot more viable especially once you consider their much lower pricing. While the i3s feature higher clocks, it cost nearly double for the measly extra 500 Mhz and 1MB of L3 cache.
Along with the now unlocked and overclockable i3 7350K, it looks like Intel is getting ready to counter Ryzen. AMD is reportedly planning to offer a 4 core 8 thread version at $150 which has a good chance at seizing the budget market. We may even see a 2 core 4 thread variant coming in about $50-100 as well. It will be interesting to see what will happen to the long-stagnant CPU market once AMD is able to offer substantial competition.