Intel took the Gigahertz wars to a new level yesterday, announcing its 3.06GHz Pentium 4 processor.

The chip features a new technology – "hyperthreading" – borrowed from Intel's Xeon servers. This lets multiple software threads run more efficiently on a single processor, the company claims.

Intel claims hyperthreading should deliver up to 30 per cent performance benefit. However, initial tests by US PC title, PC World, suggest that performance at this stage is "mixed".

Hyperthreading support needs to be built in to the operating system for applications to take advantage of the feature.

Several PC vendors are preparing to exploit the processors in their machines. These include HP, NEC and Dell.