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When implementing new servers that include the latest Intel Pentium 4 Xeon processors, be sure and select the correct version of Windows 2000 to take advantage of current Intel processor technology. Since the major server manufacturers like HP/Compaq, IBM and Dell have integrated the new Intel chips in their mainstream hardware offerings, you will likely see new server purchases arrive with 'hyper-threading' technology. Intel hyper-threading enables the Windows 2000 OS to recognize double the number of installed processors. This advancement is present in Intel Xeon processor DP (dual processor) and Intel Xeon processor MP (multi processor) chips.
The processors are designed as single physical processing cores with dual logical architectures presenting double the amount of virtual processors to the operating system. A two-way system running Windows 2000 Server would appear to have four processors installed, and a four-way system running Windows 2000 Advanced Server would have eight. While not duplicating the power of additional processors, Intel claims the chips' multithreading benefit can increase application performance up to thirty percent by allowing processing threads to use resources during idle periods of other processing threads. Older applications not coded to utilize SMP will see no benefit, however.
When provisioning your new hyper-threading server, remember the Windows 2000 processor number limitations: Windows 2000 Professional supports up to two processors, Windows 2000 Server supports up to four, Advanced Server handles eight, and Datacenter Server scales to 32 processors. With hyper-threading, you will run against the OS limits at half the number of physical processors. For those administrators thinking about licensing requirements, don't worry --Microsoft has examined the Intel technology and only insists on counting the physical processors, not the virtual processors, for Enterprise application per-processor licensing (SQL Server, et al).
This was first published in January 2003