Ashar H. Zaidi, Country Manager, Intel Pakistan recently shared Intel’s Vision for 2010. One of the more interesting things shared was a roadmap of Intel’s Tick Tock development model until 2012. Each tock is the introduction of a new architecture while each tick is the introduction of a smaller production process. Currently Intel is introducing the 45nm Nehalem “tock” and in 2010 you can expect a 32nm shrink of Nehalem
A new architecture will also arrive in 2010, that tock will introduce the 32nm Sandy Bridge. Sandy bridge is the 32nm architecture will succeed the 45nm Nehalem architecture in 2010. Sandy Bridge (formerly also known as Gesher) will have up to eight cores on the same die, 512KB L2 cache and 16MB L3 cache. Also new will be the addition of Instruction AVX (Advanced Vector Extensions) which might be as significant as the introduction of SSE in 1999. According to Intel the introduction of AVX will enhance the performance of certain matrix multiplication instructions by 90 percent.
Even though Asher didn’t go into further architectures, the next actually after that will be the introduction of a 22nm shrink of Sandy Bridge. Most of you will probably already have heard about these upcoming processors, but if you haven’t, than know that in 2011 you can expect the 22nm Ivy Bridge and one year later you can expect the new 22nm Haswell architecture. The 22nm architecture is expected to replace the Sandy Bridge architecture in 2012. This architecture is probably still four years away from us in Pakistan but early information tells us that this processor architecture will have a native eight-core design, a whole new cache architecture, “revolutionary” energy saving technologies, the FMA (Fused Multiply-Add) instruction set and possibly on-package vector co-processors.
Asher also talked about the chip giant’s plans for the Value, Mid-range, Performance and Extreme segments. Already in the works is Intel’s Lynnfield (LGA1156) platform will start out with a trio of processors, two Core i7-8xx models and one Core i5-7xx model (i5-750 review coming up next). However, by 2010 Intel will introduce the new Clarkdale family across the mid-range segment. With clock frequencies from 3.2GHz up to 3.46GHz. It will be Intel’s first 32nm processors and grab the relay baton from the Core 2 Duo/Core 2 Quad series.
It is expected that in 2010, Intel will also announce the six-core Gulftown processor that is listed after Core i7-Extreme in this presentation. Rumor have suggested that Intel will make this processor the Core i9 series. Asher said to keep tuned for a January announcement.
Asher talked a great deal about the upcoming Westmere. Like Nehalem, Westmere will support Intel technologies incorporated into Nehalem like Hyper-Threading, Intel Turbo Boost, and an integrated memory controller. When it launches, two Westmere-based cores will be offered: Clarkdale for desktops (mainstream/ value segments), and Arrandale for notebooks (mainstream/ value segments).
Both Clarkdale and Arrandale will sport two processing cores with Hyper-Threading, bringing support for up to four threads to run simultaneously, and they’ll also be the first Intel CPUs to feature integrated graphics on the CPU package (although it won’t be on the same piece of silicon as the CPU die). Intel also says both CPUs will support dual-channel DDR3, with 4MB cache. In another first, the new processors will also support Intel’s new AES instructions: these are 7 new instructions focused on delivering accelerated encryption/decryption. This should reap benefits for users concerned about data security who would like to encrypt their hard drive.
The performance benefits for these chips will largely come from the improved bandwidth and reduced latency Intel obviously reaps by integrating the CPU and GPU closer together on the same package, as well as higher clock speeds. Unlike the 32-nm Westmere CPU, the graphics chip used will be based on Intel’s existing 45-nm process.
This move will make life tougher for someone like NVIDIA, which has touted their superior graphics performance before with integrated graphics products like GeForce 9400M, which has won numerous design wins including Apple Macbook. But with graphics moving off of the chipset and directly onto the CPU itself, it’s more efficient for someone like Apple, Dell, or HP to just use the integrated graphics provided by the CPU rather than going to the expense of using an NVIDIA chipset. Fortunately Clarkdale and Arrandale support switchable graphics, so a discrete GPU could be combined with the CPU to deliver superior 3D performance when needed for apps like gaming, and then switch back to the integrated graphics to conserve power.
Finally Intel has also talked about a renewed emphasis on packing more features–such as better graphics–into mobile chips, particularly those going into laptops.
My Own Thoughts.
It seems that the recession is biting Intel. How else can you explain the increased focus on the mainstream and value segments, than the extreme. Gulftown e.g. is not launching till late 2010. Intel knows that one of Core i7’s key weaknesses is cost. All Core i7 CPUs require Intel’s X58 platform, and pricey DDR3 memory, and as any enthusiast can tell you, motherboards based on Intel’s X-series chipsets have never been cheap. While X58 motherboard price have come down considerably since launch, X58 motherboards still start right around the Rs. 24000, with the price quickly going up from there on more feature-rich motherboards.
To address this issue, Intel is planning to introduce mainstream derivatives of Nehalem. These processors will utilize a new CPU socket and 5-series chipset, making them incompatible with the X58/Core i7 platform and vice versa. They’ll also utilize a dual-channel memory controller rather than the triple-channel controller used on the Core i7.
But I also believe that Intel realizes that it’s very much ahead of the competition. AMD’s quad-core Phenom II parts are more competitive with today’s Core 2 Penryn CPUs than Nehalem, so again, there’s no rush to introduce new parts in this space when your existing lineup should be more than adequate enough to outperform the competition. Intel isn’t even bother with Quad Core versions of Arrandale & Clarksdale, it’s so far ahead.
Anyway, here is a quick summary guide for those who got lost in the tick-tock wave (Source: Wikipedia):
Typically, the same dies are used for uniprocessor (UP) and dual-processor (DP) servers, but using an extra QuickPath link for the inter-processor communication in the DP server variant
|DP Server||MP Server|
|Dual-Core 32 nm
Dual-Channel, PCIe, Graphics Core
|Quad-Core 45 nm
|Quad-Core 45 nm
|Six-Core 32 nm
|Eight-Core 45 nm
For the presentation: