updated 12:50 am EDT, Thu March 29, 2007
Intel Penryn chips coming
Ahead of new mobile Core 2 Duos expected in May, Intel on Wednesday announced that it will begin producing its next-generation Penryn family of processors in the second half of this year and outlined its new Nehalem chip architecture expected in 2008. The six new "Penryn" processors, including both dual- and quad-core variations, will benefit from enhancements to the Intel Core microarchitecture and also Intel's new 45nm Hi-k process technology, which the company claims results in higher performance and more energy-efficient processors.
Penryn's new microarchitecture enhancements will bring extended battery life for mobile devices, enhanced performance for single-threaded applications, new SIMD extensions for better performance, enhanced virtualization, more instruction executions per clock cycle, larger on-chip caches, and higher processor speeds of more than 3GHz, the Santa Clara-company claimed.
The new Penryn family processors will include dual and quad-core desktop processors as well as a dual core mobile processor and new dual and quad-core Xeon server chips. The chip giant also said that a processor for higher-end server multiprocessing systems is also under development, but did not provide any further details.
Penryn processors will offer faster bus speeds of up to 1600MHz and up to a 50 percent larger L2 cache compared to the current generation Intel Core 2 chips. The larger on-chip storage will forgo repeat calculations and reduce the often slower main memory access. The new dual-core Penryn processors will feature up to a 6MB of L2 cache and quad-core processors will offer up to 12MB of L2 cache.
Leveraging its hafnium-based high-K + metal gate transistor design, Intel's next-generation quad-core Penryn processors will have a record 820 million transistors, but will be smaller due to the new 45nm technology. The dual-core chip will feature a die size of 107 square-mm, which is 25 percent smaller than Intel's current 65nm products. In addition, the new chips will operate at the same or lower power than Intel's current dual core processors.
Intel says it has more than 15 45nm Hi-k product designs in various stages of development, said it will have two 45nm manufacturing fabs in production by the end of the year and two more by the second half of 2008.
Penryn chips will extend battery life, improve performance
The new mobile chips feature a variety of new technologies to extend battery life and enhance performance. The Santa Clara-based company said new advanced power management state called Deep Power Down Technology will significantly reduce the power of the processor during idle periods, thereby extending battery life by negating internal transistor power leakage.
Intel's new mobile chips will feature improved Intel "Dynamic Acceleration Technology" to enhance performance of single-threaded applications by shutting down inactive cores to boost performance of other active cores. "Imagine a shower with two powerful water shower heads, when one shower head is turned off, the other has increased water pressure (performance)," the company said.
Intel's Penryn chips will include new Intel Streaming SIMD Extensions 4 (SSE4) instructions to improve video, photo imaging, and other application performance. As the largest unique instruction set addition since the original SSE Instruction Set Architecture (ISA), it extends the Intel 64 instruction set architecture for better performance and added capabilities.
Other microarchitecture optimizations will also improve the overall performance and energy efficiency. An improved architecture will deliver more instructions executions per clock cycle for better performance and PC responsiveness. Penryn also speeds up virtual machine transition (entry/exit) times by an average of 25 to 75 percent -- without any changes to virtual machine software.
The Penryn family of products will deliver higher overall clock frequencies within existing power and thermal envelopes, including speeds of greater than 3GHz for both desktop and server processors. Intel also said that Penryn will provide fast divider performance, roughly doubling the divider speed over previous generations for computations used in nearly all applications. By using a new, faster divide technique called Radix 16, Penryn will bring additional performance improvements.
Nehalem: "enormous" performance and energy efficiency gains
Looking beyond Penryn, Intel said it will deliver its Nehalem architecture in 2008 as another step in Intel's "tick-tock" product strategy and cadence to deliver a new process technology with either an enhanced microarchitecture or entirely new microarchitecture every year. The next-generation Nehalem microarchitecture will offer dynamically managed cores, threads, cache, interfaces and power as well as simultaneous multi-threading, which Intel said is similar to its Hyper-threading technology.
Nehalem will also deliver new Intel SSE4 and ATA instruction set architecture additions and superior multi-level shared caching. It will also feature a leap in processing with support for more than 16 threads and up to 8 cores as well as an integrated memory controllers and a high-performance integrated graphics engine for client.
Intel also said that a 32nm-based "Westmere" architecture is expected in 2009, while the new "Gesher" microarchitecture is expected in 2010.