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More "Penryn" details emerge

Despite the plethora of attention Penryn received over the last few weeks, Intel's newest roadmaps put the processor launch for Q1'08.  This indicates the launch has not necessarily accelerated even though the initial tape-out proved extremely successful.

On the other hand, Intel's 2008 roadmap shows every segment simultaneously deploying 45nm products.  Like AMD's recent 65nm Brisbane launch, Intel guidance notes the processors will start shipping Q4'07 but the actual launch will come as a coordinated 2008 event.

The first Intel 45nm treatments will come from the quad-core Yorkfield and dual-core Wolfdale desktop processors.  Wolfdale has two physical cores on a single die and up to 6MB of L2 cache.  Yorkfield is then two Wolfdale dice on a single package. Also worth noting: Wolfdale ships with a 1333MHz front-side bus and Yorkfield ships with a 1066MHz front-side bus.  Chipset support will largely come from Bearlake-family that was previously disclosed on DailyTech.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about these two processors is the return of Hyper-Threading.  This, however, does not mean that Yorkfield will appear as eight logical cores, nor does it mean Wolfdale will appear as four logical cores. Intel's internal guidance on the subject specifically claims the processor will ship with Hyper-Threading, but will only utilize 4 threads.  On every Intel roadmap in the past, Hyper-Threading doubles the amount of listed threads in the guidance documentation.  Clearly, there is more of a mystery here still.  (Update: Please read the retraction below.)

"The official company policy is that our engineers have left the door open for Hyper-Threading, but we cannot confirm or deny any future plans for the technology," adds Intel Public Relations Manager Dan Snyder.

All Penryn cores also include Intel TXT, previously known as Intel LaGrande Technology.  TXT stands for Trusted Execution Technology and refers to the collection of devices.  The Trusted Platform Module, or TPM, is one component. DMA page protection is another. 

Alas, even if 2008 seems like a long time away for the 45nm platform, it's important to note that all Intel platforms will have 45nm SKUs in Q1'08.  Penryn, the family name for Intel's first generation 45nm consumer CPUs, also refers specifically to the 45nm dual-core mobile CPU.  Intel's current roadmap claims this processor will lead the Q1'08 mobile push with several low voltage models coming one quarter later.

For servers, Wolfdale will make an appearance as a dual and single socket Xeon.  It's been long-standing Intel policy to separate desktop, mobile and server chipsets into different products; Conroe was the Core 2 desktop CPU and Woodcrest, though physically nearly identical, was the Xeon counterpart.  Wolfdale as a server and a desktop CPU indicates the chips are electrically identical -- though each will likely receive different packaging for the different sockets. 

Yorkfield will not receive the same codenaming treatment as Wolfdale on the server. Instead, Harpertown will be the quad-core Xeon for two socket servers.  Yorkfield will still be the company’s single-socket quad-core Xeon offering.

Update 01/31/2007:  Channel sources have reached out to DailyTech to emphasize that the addition of Hyper-Threading to Penryn-family processors in 2008 is incorrect and the result of dated channel data.  My feelings and thoughts about the retraction can be read on my blog.

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By saratoga on 1/31/2007 3:59:10 PM , Rating: 2
Hyperthreading may provide a performance boost for some multithreaded software that benefits from lots of cores (like 3D rendering), but it won't help for games.

Old games maybe not. Newer games will benefit, since they'll have dual core support.

Think about it: it's like having two cores, each running at half speed.

Err, no its not. If that were true, then you would never have a speed up or slow down. Its more like having one core that can run two threads concurrently with execution resources divided between them. Actually, thats exactly what it is.

OR, if one thread dominates and the other gets to run only when the main thread is waiting, it's like gaining an additional slow thread... which doesn't really help games much.

Doesn't work like that. The OS schedules the threads (and the software can too), so there is no "main" thread. Both are basically equal, unless your OS is really dumb.

That thread will either slow down the main thread (because both can't run at the same time) or it will be unreliable (because you can't count on it to run, the main thread might not have a cache miss for a while).

This is actually what happens WITHOUT HT. With it, both threads CAN run at the same time.

Also, remember, HT does not depend on cache misses. Its very easy to have a thread that never misses a cache read, but still benefits strongly from HT.

If your sound is on the slow thread, and the main thread doesn't have a cache miss for a while, your sound is going to skip. OR, your sound won't skip, but it won't skip because the core is running the sound thread instead of running the game thread when it could be running the game thread. So your game will be slower.

Sorry, but no. This has nothing to do with HT, and its not how threading works. At least not in Windows, Linux or MacOS X. A few embedded systems and MacOS 9 worked a little bit like that through.

At best, HT will boost performance if you have a dual core processor running a 4-core game (like Alan Wake), but it will still be utter crap compared to using a real quad core processor.

Thats just dumb. Dual core and HT are complementary. You should be comparing like verses like. That is, a dual core HT processor against a quad core HT processor. Saying "dual core is better then HT" is meaningless, since the real comparison would be "dual core with HT verses quad core with HT".

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