March 28, 2007 1:25 PM PDT

Intel to add memory controllers, threading in 2008

SAN FRANCISCO--Intel on Wednesday confirmed plans to integrate critical system components and reintroduce hyperthreading technology in 2008, when it unveils a new chip blueprint.

In the past, Intel executives have spoken in broad terms about integrating components such as the memory controller and direct links between processor cores. But those technologies are on tap for Nehalem, the code name Intel has assigned to a chip family it will start producing in 2008, Pat Gelsinger, senior vice president and general manager of Intel's Digital Enterprise Group, said during a briefing for reporters here.

"We view (Nehalem) as the first dynamically scalable microarchitecture," Gelsinger said. What he means by that is that Intel chip designers will be able to pick and choose from a wide variety of ingredients to build chips for different types of computers, from powerful servers to small notebooks.

Chips based on Nehalem will have between one and eight cores, and will be capable of handling two independent software threads per core. Hyperthreading, Intel's name for the concept, allows a processor to execute two different code streams at pretty much the same time. This was a feature found in Intel's single-core Pentium 4 processors but largely discontinued with the advent of multicore chips.

Intel also plans to build chips with "point-to-point" links that directly connect processor cores with their neighbors, and install a fast link between the processor and memory with integrated memory controllers, Gelsinger said. Those were two design philosophies used by Advanced Micro Devices to break into the server market with its Opteron chip in 2003. Intel has thus far disdained those approaches.

Not every chip in the Nehalem family will come with all those features, but they will be available to Intel's designers, Gelsinger said. Different customers require various types of products for their future PC and server designs, he said.

For example, Intel's newest best friend, Apple, is pushing the chipmaker to develop chips with a lot of integrated pieces, including graphics controllers, Gelsinger said. Apple's focus on industrial design means it's looking at building ever-smaller systems, and integration is one way to accomplish that, he said.

But other customers building PCs for businesses or gaming have different requirements. And some server companies may want an eight-core processor capable of handling 16 threads, while others need a low-power chip for blade servers. "What used to be chipset variations with common cores will be standard chipsets with uncommon cores," he said.

Intel will start producing Nehalem processors--the actual brand has yet to be revealed--in 2008 using its 45-nanometer manufacturing technology. But before then, it plans to introduce Penryn chips as the first processors to use that new manufacturing technology.

Penryn chips will come in several different core combinations, just like the current generation of Core chips. Desktops and servers will have their choice of dual-core or quad-core chips that will run faster than 3GHz, Gelsinger said. Notebook chips will continue to have two cores.

Intel anticipates that the Penryn chips will deliver a 20 percent boost in gaming performance over its current generation of Core 2 Duo processors, and a 45 percent improvement in the performance of media applications. The improvements come from new instructions, such as the SSE4 extensions to the x86 instruction set, as well as larger caches and faster front-side bus speeds.

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Pat Gelsinger, HyperThreading, AMD Opteron, Intel, Intel Pentium 4

6 comments

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2008 Processors and HTT
I use a HTT Processor..for Video Production..I think that my PC has moved upwards in my Projects because of the match-CPU/RAM..its hardware as much as the software application..Instructions and Storage "blast" outwards it seems that the FSB and the HTT contain such things..Core 2 Duo went with a FSB unmatched for Total RAM..so far I'm convinced that Core 2 Duo is my next Processor..and RAM/at about 1-GB useing 2 x 512 MBs for System Re-installs and even just looking to start a little on the low end and progress slowly..having more Instructions(from Intel)seems likely to be the best(what else would be the limits of Intel)..except to have Faster Running applications in LapTops(which I really shun for Multi-media)..I think we will keep some of the problems of being Home PC-users..Bugs from some venture into the World Wide Web..picking security software..and Hardware installs likely to be upset by the repetitive process of keeping the machine-happy..So far I'm looking at $$800.00 RAM Modules and that's a bit hefty for me..$$500.00 OSs..and CPUs that are affordable in relation to everything else..I think those of us that can build our own PCs can still be happy under $$1000.00..but it looks like more is on the way.
Posted by castingRod47 (19 comments )
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what?
What..does..this..have..to..do..with..the..article?
Posted by sbernhard (2 comments )
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finally it comes out
It all comes to a boiling point as Intel continues the trend towards AMD architecture. Isn't there a law against stealing ideas from another company? What would alexander grahm bell say if after a year a very well known postal service that dominated the p2p market said "yeah we've been working on integrating voice into mail for a long time now, and we will have the only cross US phone lines in a couple months now thanks to the billions upon billions of dollars we have to full-out monopolize the market and control the continental wire set ups."
Posted by theprof00 (50 comments )
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You might have a point...
You *might* have a point, except that AMD blatantly copied and reverse-engineered Intel technology for years before the Athlon.
Plus, that's how innovation generally works, multiple parties copying the best of what's out there, and then just adding a little more...
Posted by CompEng (201 comments )
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Are you sure it is AMDs idea?
Have you forgotten Timna? Intel have planned this before in 2000 but changed their mind when they lost confidence in the future of Rambus. (Good call too!)

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://news.cbsi.com/Intel+preparing+Northwood%2C+Timna+chips+for+2001/2100-1001_3-244356.html" target="_newWindow">http://news.cbsi.com/Intel+preparing+Northwood%2C+Timna+chips+for+2001/2100-1001_3-244356.html</a>

AMD haven't done anything remarkable for years. My last two chips (including the one I am using now) were AMD, but the next ones wont be.
Posted by Siegfried Schtauffen (269 comments )
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