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Intel partners reveal plans for new processor socket designs

In a memo copied to DailyTech, Intel partners recently discussed details regarding Intel's next-generation socket designs.

Intel's next-generation processor family, codenamed Nehalem, integrates the memory controller directly onto the processor die -- a feature already standard on AMD's K8 and K10 core architecture. 

Where companies traditionally increase pin count for new processor designs, Intel's LGA715 (also dubbed Socket H) will actually decrease the amount of pins from 775 to 715.  Since the memory controller will reside on the processor, Nehalem processors no longer need the additional signaling from the processor to the Northbridge. 

Guidance released to Japanese PC Watch claims this new desktop socket will actually utilize a 1160-pin LGA1160 design instead. Intel officials would not reveal exact pin count details.

LGA1366, on the other hand, will greatly increase the pin-count for cross-CPU communication via Intel's QuickPath Interface.  AMD increased its pin-count for server chipsets when it migrated from PGA940 to LGA1207 design last year.

Server Nehalem processors will use Registered DDR3 memory; desktop processors will utilize the unregistered variant.   While not electrically compatible with DDR2, DDR3 still uses 240 pins for signally thus eliminating the need to increase pins on account of the system memory.

As one Intel engineer who agreed to speak on conditions of anonymity put it, "We try to reduce the pin counts as much as possible to eliminate cross talk and other interference." He adds, "But we do try to leave some pins for overhead and future use."

Nehalem-based CPUs will use Intel's second-generation land grid array (LGA) design.  The use of "pins" in context of the land grid array is a bit of a misnomer as the processor interfaces with the socket design via pads rather than pins.  This LGA design is recognized by both AMD and Intel for its ability to increase "pin" density and durability.  

Corporate roadmaps from Tyan and Supermicro both detail LGA1366 designs for sampling by the end of Q2 2008.  Desktop LGA715 variants, on the other hand, won't see mass production until the second half of 2008, with a target launch of Q4 2008.

Intel guidance slates LGA1366 Tylersburg chipsets for a Q3 2008 launch.  Desktop Havendale and Lynnfield chipsets using the LGA715 design are on the record for Q4 2008.

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That's a lot of pins for QuickPath
By Micronite on 11/28/2007 7:13:56 PM , Rating: 2
1366 vs 715... Just a QuickPath difference?
I think there's more here than meets the eye.
Didn't I read elsewhere that there may be versions with 3 DRAM channels, 2 DRAM channels, or 1 DRAM channel? Perhaps that's the reason for the huge difference in pins.

RE: That's a lot of pins for QuickPath
By KristopherKubicki on 11/28/2007 7:16:55 PM , Rating: 2
Both LGA1366 and LGA715 will use QuickPath. The additional memory is going to add to that pincount, but a lot of it is point-to-point communication with the other CPUs.

Remember, as it is right now, socket-to-socket communication is done via the Northbridge.

RE: That's a lot of pins for QuickPath
By GeorgeOrwell on 11/28/2007 7:26:11 PM , Rating: 2
Is the CPU going to talk to the GPU via QuickPath as well?

RE: That's a lot of pins for QuickPath
By KristopherKubicki on 11/28/2007 7:32:23 PM , Rating: 2
No. The GPU will connect to the Northbridge via PCIe, which then talks to the CPU. I guess that will change a bit with Larrabee but by then the GPU will be on the CPU die.

RE: That's a lot of pins for QuickPath
By DerwenArtos12 on 11/29/2007 5:53:15 AM , Rating: 2
Is Intel still going to call it a north-bridge? Rather, My question is: will they still use an two chip chip-set once they move the memory controller onto the CPU? Semantics I know, but the changeover to a single chip(in most applications) changed board layout a lot and with the Intel still trying to wedge in BTX couldn't this present a GREAT opportunity to really mess with us?

By cheburashka on 11/29/2007 2:36:19 PM , Rating: 2
They haven't called it a northbridge for a while now. Currently it is a CPU, (G)MCH, and ICH. In the future it will be (G)CPU and PCH.

By PlasmaBomb on 11/29/2007 2:13:13 PM , Rating: 2
According to this they are -

I guess we will have to wait and see :)

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