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New sockets, chipsets and architecture en route from Intel before 2009

Nehalem will likely be the most aggressive processor architecture in Intel's portfolio since the original Pentium. With the launch of the Core architecture, the company announced its tick-tock strategy: design new architecture, then shrink the process node.  Rinse and repeat.

Tick-tock is alive and well as Intel's corporate roadmap reveals additional details about its desktop iteration of 45nm quad-core Nehalem, dubbed Bloomfield.

Nehalem will be fundamentally different from the Core architecture for no less than two reasons. The company will move the memory controller from the core logic on the motherboard to the processor die.  This tactic has been a cornerstone for the AMD K8 architecture since 2003.

In addition, Nehalem will also feature a new bus interconnect, currently dubbed Quick Path Interconnect.  This new interconnect behaves very similar to HyperTransport, currently used on all AMD platforms since K8.

A new bus and memory controller means a new socket design. Existing motherboards are not compatible with Nehalem-based processors.  The new desktop socket, labeled LGA1366, will completely replace the existing LGA775 interconnect. 

The company will replace the X38 and yet to be announced X48 desktop chipsets with the Tylersburg chipset family and ICH10 southbridge for these first LGA1366 motherboards. 

Corporate guidance also suggests the company will likely ditch all DDR2 support in favor of DDR3, at least on the high end platforms.  All Bloomfield processors will feature support three DDR3 channels.

However, not everything is known about Nehalem just yet.  Corporate guidance suggests Bloomfield will feature a new revision of Hyper-Threading.  Although each Bloomfield features four physical cores, the processor will dynamically allocate additional threads -- Bloomfield computers will detect eight logical cores.

Bloomfield will feature less cache than Intel's high-end 45nm Penryn offerings slated for release between now and Q4 2008.  However, unlike the 12MB L2 cache featured on Penryn, the 8MB L3 cache on all Nehalem offerings can be shared between all four on-die cores.

Intel's highest-end Bloomfield processors will feature a 130W thermal envelope.  Extreme Edition Penryn processors, the first on the 45nm node, have a thermal envelope that tops out around 136W.  Intel's Q9550 processor (2.8 GHz, 45nm quad-core) sports a 95W TDP.

Paul Otellini, Intel CEO, boldly announced that Nehalem as "taped out" at the Intel Developer Forum last September.  The tape out designates when a design team has moved from the design to working samples. 

At both Intel and AMD, the tape out comes approximately one year before the actual launch date.  True to tick-tock, Bloomfield's debut will also come one year after the 45nm node launch, or Penryn.


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RE: Another bottleneck removed
By Golgatha on 10/26/2007 12:29:18 PM , Rating: 2
I agree about playing the waiting game, but for different reasons. Time to just sit it out and upgrade the graphics card occasionally to stay on top of the games over the next couple of years. My Q6600@3.0Ghz/4GB DDR2/*insert graphics card here* will hold me over until these CPUs hit the market and DDR3 gets within the reaches of mere mortals.

As far as productivity software is concerned, the software isn't even close to taking advantage of quad cores and in some cases dual cores, so I don't feel like I'll be missing out on anything for the next couple of years just sitting on my current config.


RE: Another bottleneck removed
By afkrotch on 10/28/2007 9:17:14 PM , Rating: 2
It really all depends. Architectural changes can still improve performance for single-threaded applications. I mean, which would you rather have? A Pentium D or a Core 2 Duo? Both are still dual cores.

Even the minor move to Penryn could net up to 10% increase in performance for some apps, while decreasing power utilization.

If you are in constant need of more performance (for whatever applications you are using), then hopping through all the latest is simply needed. Majority of us don't. I'm running a E6600 @ 3.33 ghz, 2GB DDR2, and 7900GTX. Until games start really utilizing multiple core or simply need higher performance from a single core, I'll be able to survive with my proc.


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