Intel announces 45nm "Nehalem" at IDF during Paul Otellini's keynote  (Source: DailyTech, Brandon Hill)

Intel's Paul Otellini holding up a "Nehale" wafer  (Source: DailyTech, Brandon Hill)
Intel's largest architecture overhaul in decades is less than a year away

It wasn't that long ago that predictions of doom and gloom pinned Intel between a rock and a hard place.  The company's NetBurst architecture didn't scale and its Itanium architecture didn't sell; it looked as if for the first time in history, Moore's Law was in serious jeopardy. 

All that changed, to some extent on a whim, with the Israeli-developed mobile processors.  The mobile Core architecture would eventually replace Intel's entire NetBurst family, and the company vowed a new development cycle that would assure the company never pigeonholed itself in the same manner again: Intel's "tick-tock" philosophy.  The company will replace its processor node every two years, followed by a new architecture design every other year on the mature processor node.

Nehalem chief architect, Glen Hinton, tells DailyTech the philosophy behind 731 million transistor, 45nm Nehalem is an extension of the approach to Penryn and 65nm Core 2 Duo processors: a universal, robust core design that will scale from mobile to server applications.

"We wanted to build the highest performance per core that could be used in notebooks all the way to high end servers," stated Hinton.

The Gigahertz War has officially shifted to the Multi-core War.  However, instead of fighting a pitch-battle the company will focus on improvements that allow multi-core systems to scale without forking development trees.  Hinton emphasizes the company spent extensive resources improving single-thread performance, for example. 

An integrated memory controller and new QuickPath interface will probably steal the limelight for these new single-thread improvements, but wait, there's more.

Hyper-Threading will make its long awaited return with Nehalem, yet Hinton claims symmetrical multi-threading is a far cry from the Hyper-Threading found on NetBurst.  Nehalem will allow the operating system to dynamically power down threads -- so while an eight-core Nehalem processor will appear as 16 logical cores to the operating system, these threads can be powered down on-demand. 

Like AMD's Barcelona architecture, Nehalem will allow the operating system to dynamically power and sleep other components of the processor including individual cores and cache components.

Nine months later, it looks like Nehalem is following in the same footsteps at Penryn.  Today Intel CEO Paul Otellini announced the company taped-out the processor three weeks ago.  Otellini demonstrated a Windows XP machine running Nehalem, and claims the processor boots Mac OS X as well.

Neither Otellini nor Hinton would hint when Nehalem will see its first ship date, though Penryn is slated to ship almost exactly 11 months to the date of its tape-out announcement. Nehalem could potentially launch in the late summer of 2008 – 11 months from the initial tape out date.

"Game reviewers fought each other to write the most glowing coverage possible for the powerhouse Sony, MS systems. Reviewers flipped coins to see who would review the Nintendo Wii. The losers got stuck with the job." -- Andy Marken
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