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Intel's CTO Pat Gelsinger proudly displays wafers of Nehalem processors with B1 stepping.  (Source: CannardPlus.com)

Intel is continuing to follow its "tick tock" strategy, with die shrinks coming in 2009 and 2011. New architectures, according to Intel, will be coming in 2008 with Nehalem, in 2010 with Sandy Bridge, and in 2012 with Haswell.  (Source: CannardPlus.com)

Real time raytracing may finally be introduced with Intel's Larrabee. Intel demoed an impresive raytraced version of Quake IV recently.  (Source: CannardPlus.com)
Intel has lots of excitement in store in the next four years

One of the most anticipated releases for late 2008 is Intel's Nehalem processor --its new four core processor that features the return of Hyper Threading, allowing eight logical cores per processor.  Recently formally named Intel Core i7 by Intel, the new processor is also highly anticipated as it will feature QuickPath, Intel's answer to AMD's HyperTransport, and will feature an on-die memory controller for the first time.

The latest Intel slides from CanardPlus show that Intel's wafer production is going smoothly and B1 stepping chips are being produced.  Sources at Intel estimate that the chip will offer 15 to 20 percent performance gains at a common frequency over today's top of the line Penryn processors.  The processor will go head to head with AMD's upcoming 45 nm offering, codenamed Shanghai.

Looking forward, according to internal slides, Intel plans to release a 32 nm shrink of Nehalem, codenamed Westmere at the end of 2009.  This increment follows Intel's "tick tock" approach of yearly updates, with the "tick" being the die shrink such as Westmere, while the "tock" represents a new architecture.

The next new architecture after Nehalem is codenamed Sandy Bridge (formerly known as Gesher) and will be built on a 32 nm process.  While details are scarce, Intel is hard at work on its development and details have begun to trickle out. 

Sandy Bridge will feature many key improvements.  It will support wider vectors, which Intel says allows for more power efficient floating point operations.  It also will feature "advanced data rearrangement", involving the use of 256 bit primitives.  Intel says this will improve cache coordination and help to speed the flow of data.  Furthering Sandy Bridge's monolithic nature, the new architecture will support three and four operand instructions and non destructive syntax to minimize register copies and allow for extensibility.

The architecture also features "flexible unaligned memory access support", which Intel indicates will allow computations to be immediately performed on data loaded from memory.  Also Intel will offer up an extensible new opcode (VEX), which it says will reduce code size.  The net results of the improvements Intel says will be an increase in performance of as much as 90 percent in certain mathematically intensive operations such as matrix multiplies.

With the Sandy Bridge processors expected to land in 2010, 2011 will bring a shrink codenamed Ivy Bridge, which will be made at the 22 nm node.  Finally in 2012, the next new architecture Haswell will arrive.

While Haswell is still in the very formative stages, Intel has big plans for it as well.  Early reports indicate that it will have eight physical cores by default and "revolutionary" power saving features.  Another key feature of this new architecture will be the FMA (Fused Multiply-Add), which will allow terms to be multiplied and added simultaneously.

Intel was rather tight-lipped about architectural details on its upcoming GPU, Larrabee, after so much initial noise.  However, Intel did reveal that its ray-tracing engine may finally see light with the release of Larrabee.  Ray-tracing is a different rendering method that has traditionally been more computationally intensive.  While producing the beautiful CGI in movies, it has eluded the capabilities of modern gaming hardware. 

In a sign of things to come, a ray-traced version of Quake 4, which looked stunning and ran at a silky 90 FPS in 1280x960, was demoed on a dual socket board featuring Intel's top of the line quad cores.

Also detailed in brief was the possible Atom-successor -- the upcoming Tolapai processor (formerly codenamed Pineview).  Tolapai is a SOC (System On a Chip) in that it will feature an integrated DDR2 memory controller, an integrated graphics core, and a full chipset, which features PCI, Ethernet, serial, and peripheral connections. 

The chip's processor will be an x86 design based on the Pentium M and will feature 148 million transistors.  It will come in a 37.5mm x 37.5mm package.  It will launch with 600 MHz, 1066 MHz or 1200 MHz clocked models.  The new integrated system is expected to be used in Netbooks as well as other diverse applications and will compete with ARM Holdings' SOC offerings.

With several new products launching this year and next, Intel is certainly looking to continue its commercial successes.



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RE: Wait a minute
By JasonMick (blog) on 8/18/2008 1:01:22 PM , Rating: 2
You're sort of right.

It was 90 fps at 1280x960, but it was on a dual socket quad core machine.

The original source was French, so it was kinda hard for me to understand what they were saying. I actually tried reading it in French, but my French ='s not so good. The article is now amended.

Anyways, the increase, if initial reports are accurate seems to show Intel has come a long ways in developing more efficient raytracing algorithms/methods.

Still beyond current tech, but getting a lot lot closer.


RE: Wait a minute
By freaqie on 8/18/2008 1:14:47 PM , Rating: 2
it might have actually been a 4 socket quadcore tigerton machine
i heard they were testing on.
btw for the first ever fully raytraced game...
let there be light.
www.photonstudios.nl

runs at about 30 fps...
turn off AA for good performance though.
it is run totally on the cpu. using the arauna realtime raytracing engine...


RE: Wait a minute
By the goat on 8/18/2008 2:36:06 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
btw for the first ever fully raytraced game... let there be light. www.photonstudios.nl


The first ever ray traced retail game was Wolfenstine 3D. True only the floors, ceilings, and walls were ray traced. Enemies and stuff in the rooms were 2D sprites. So I guess it was not a "fully" ray traced game.

The point is ray tracing game engines are new technology.


RE: Wait a minute
By the goat on 8/18/2008 2:37:28 PM , Rating: 2
^^^
That should say "not new technology."

-Duhhh brain fart


RE: Wait a minute
By MrBlastman on 8/18/2008 2:40:01 PM , Rating: 2
Close but not quite.

Wolf 3d used "ray casting," not ray tracing.


RE: Wait a minute
By the goat on 8/19/2008 8:49:11 AM , Rating: 3
Sorry MrBlastman you are wrong. Ray casting is a type of ray tracing. It is like how a Honda Accord is both a sedan and an automobile. A sedan is a type of automobile.

Ohh and thanks to everybody who rated me down. You rock!


RE: Wait a minute
By MrBlastman on 8/18/2008 1:31:52 PM , Rating: 2
Well, they should have.

The bought out (hired) the guy who came up with the Quake 3 raytracing algorithm.

What I find hilarious in all of this is ray tracing has been hyped forever (figuratively speaking) in the computer enthusiast world. I remember back in the 2400 bps BBS days where you could download stills of raytraced scenes and going - oooh! ahhh! at the pretty pictures.

Then, when Quake was originally hyped, it was supposedly going to be raytraced. It wasn't (in realtime) but it sure looked purty with those lightmapped and pre-processed shadow surfaces.

This has been a long time coming. I can't wait to see the final product - and the beastly hardware required to run a current gen game with it (Crysis/Bioshock etc.).


RE: Wait a minute
By Fnoob on 8/18/2008 1:46:09 PM , Rating: 2
(hired) the guy who came up with the Quake 3 raytracing algorithm.

Thanks for answering my question - I knew I wasn't senile yet. This has been a long time coming. And you're correct, the beastly requirements for a raytraced Crysis will be amuzingly infuriating.

In the interim, at least someone could come along and offer a raytraced "replay mode" with current games. Similar to say, the XB360 PGR3 style where the replay is at much higher resolution. Perhaps this is already being done?


RE: Wait a minute
By MrBlastman on 8/18/2008 2:51:48 PM , Rating: 2
From the horse's mouth:

http://www.pcper.com/article.php?aid=506

I can't wait to see Ray Tracing in games... one day. The results are astonishing.


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