Intel Architecture Alive and

By eweek  |  Posted 2007-09-20 Print this article Print

Well"> Where does the company see the Intel Architecture going in the future? We certainly think that its alive and well, and it we want to take it down. This was Pauls 10X challenge. Can we take it down 10X in power, and can we take it up 10X in performance? That is "Larrabee." We beat the 10X down in power two years early, and that is the "Menlow" [ultraportable] platform, which will be in production next year, with the "Silverthorne" processor, which is one-tenth the power of our ultra-low voltage processor. I think a lot of people doubted that we could take Intel Architecture down into the sub-1-watt range, and "Moorestown" [platform] continues that trend. We will probably take active power down by another factor of two and make similar improvements in idle power and [power] leakage.
At IDF, Intel lays out its enterprise plans. Read about them here.
So we are taking it down. We are taking the full architecture down with low-power IA Silverthorne, which is based on what we call the Bonnell core, which is a complete implementation of the architecture right down to building virtualization in it and all the other gee-whiz features like SSE [Streaming Simd Extensions] processing. If you know about it, it is in the Intel Architecture; its in Silverthorne. So going down in power does not mean losing features or giving up compatibility. Then we intend to go up by taking the Core architecture and enhancing it in the area of floating-point performance, which is required for these high-throughput applications that include, but is not limited to, graphics. Its still the IA architecture that you know and love with the full support of all the Intel tools and third-party tools for it and all the industry knowledge around IA. Now, its going up, if not way up, in terms of crunch power, and we are positioning IA to tackle this new range of application that we have been talking about for the last few years, such as the tera-scale applications. We think we can do it all while retaining strong architecture compatibility; strong user, programmer and developer familiarity; as well as a customer confidence that this is an architecture that they know and trust and expect to be around for a long time. What is Intel doing to build virtualization onto the processor? We spent a lot of time and research on the virtualization topic. I think that perhaps we didnt focus on what the industry is doing with it. We were trying to create a more secure computing environment within the chip, and this notion of using virtualization to do that struck as quite novel and interesting, so that you could build independent virtual machines that each define their level of security. You could have open virtual machines and closed virtual machines and really control the flow of information between virtual machines. A lot of what the industry is doing, in particular on the server side, is consolidation. People are saying that I can have so many copies of [Microsoft] Windows or I can have a mixed Windows and Linux environment and I can put each one of those in its own virtual machine. I can also dynamically provision each one of the virtual machines so that if they crash, I can reboot individual virtual machines without bringing down the system. On the client side, you have things like VMware Fusion and Parallels for the [Apple] Macintosh, where you can switch between Windows and [Mac] OS 10 instantly, and now thats to the point where you dont even think youre switching but that its like you just have different windows and those windows represent applications running with different underlying operating systems. We think that virtualization is a great, powerful technology that is at its earliest stage of its application. Wed now like to get back to the security application, which is where we started. We are just bringing out this trusted execution technology, which we used to call "LaGrande," which guarantees that the image you load in the virtual machine is the image that you wanted to load. So we have this notion of secure boot, and wed like to get back to that. We have focused a lot on processor virtualization, and theres a lot of work to be done on platform virtualization. How do we virtualize the platform so we have to do less in software and do more in the hardware? One of the things that we are doing with the USB 3.0 development is to develop the changes in USB architecture to support virtualization and then you have to look at what we are doing with PCI Express and USB and graphics. We have an eye toward supporting virtualized environments. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news in desktop and notebook computing.


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