Intel plies new programming tools

The chipmaker's new tools are designed to increase the performance of software written for its Pentium, Xeon and Itanium processors.

Stephen Shankland
Stephen Shankland principal writer
Stephen Shankland has been a reporter at CNET since 1998 and writes about processors, digital photography, AI, quantum computing, computer science, materials science, supercomputers, drones, browsers, 3D printing, USB, and new computing technology in general. He has a soft spot in his heart for standards groups and I/O interfaces. His first big scoop was about radioactive cat poop.
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Intel has released new programming tools designed to increase the performance of software written for its Pentium, Xeon and Itanium processors.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based chipmaker on Tuesday began selling version 7.0 of its compilers, crucial programming tools that translate human-written software into instructions a computer can understand. The compilers are used for writing programs in the C++ and Fortran languages, running on Windows or Linux operating systems, and using Pentium, Xeon or Itanium 2 processors, Intel said.

Compilers are a key part of the infrastructure that makes a processor useful. Improving a compiler can help a program run faster on the same hardware with no other changes. Intel also has used compiler technology to advance strategic goals such as its support for Linux.

For Intel, compilers are crucial to the success of its chips. The version 7.0 products are the first to support features that help software take advantage of hyperthreading, a feature in Xeon and shortly to debut in Pentium that lets a single processor act in some ways like two. And Itanium, a departure from current prevailing chip designs from Intel and others, is very dependent on compilers that can keep the chip fed with data and instructions.

The version 7.0 compilers create software on Itanium processors that runs about 15 percent faster than software created with the previous Intel compilers, the company said.

Companies using Intel compilers include database giant Oracle and digital audio software maker MusicMatch.

The Intel compilers can be plugged into software development tools such as Microsoft's Visual Studio.

The C++ compilers for Linux and Windows cost $399. The Fortran compilers, which appeal largely to scientific and technical customers, cost $499 for the Windows version and $699 for the Linux version, Intel said.