At the Intel Developer Forum, Intel's top executives focused on an upcoming series of Intel processors built on the new Nehalem microarchitecture, which will scale up from two to eight processing cores. These new Intel processors, which will eventually find their way into servers, notebooks and desktops, add new power management and virtualization capabilities. The Intel processors will also offer an integrated memory controller, which will rival what AMD has offered with its Opteron processors.
lifted the curtain a little more on its upcoming lineup of processors based on
the "Nehalem" microarchitecture,
which will include new power
management features and enhanced capabilities for virtualization.
While the chip maker held back some critical information on the
Nehalem-based processors, such as clock speeds and pricing, an Intel executive
did announce a new power management feature called TurboMode, which will allow
for dynamic power management within the silicon itself. The other significant
update is a virtualization technology dubbed VTD, which dedicates I/O resources
for virtual machines.
These details were announced at
the start of Intel Developer Forum, which kicked off Aug. 19.
The Nehalem microarchitecture represents a significant step forward for
Intel processors, especially for those chips destined for servers. These
upcoming Intel processors will have the ability to scale from two to eight
cores and feature a number of technologies that Intel has talked about in the
last 12 months, including a high-speed chip-to-chip interconnect called
QuickPath and an integrated memory controller. Intel's main rival, Advanced
Micro Devices, has used an integrated memory controller with its Opteron
for the last five years.
The clock speeds of the Nehalem processors are expected to be similar to
those offered with the current crop of 45-nanometer Xeon and Core 2 Duo
processors. Instead of touting the clock speeds, Intel decided to emphasize the
power efficiency of the processors and their ability to handle virtualization
"It's not raw horsepower any more," said Jim McGregor, an analyst
with In-Stat. "It's about what are the tweaks that I can [make] efficiently.
So, it gets down to ... doing things as efficiently as possible. At the same time,
the whole electronics paradigm has shifted and now power is king and they're
still pushing [the] envelope of performance."
The other improvement to power efficiency is what Intel calls
Hyper-Threading Technology, which allows for two instructional threads per
core. A four-core Nehalem processor, for example, offers a total of eight
threads. When combined with TurboMode, a server can run a single-threaded
application with much greater power efficiency since the other cores can power
down. At the same time, the clock speed also goes up, which gives a bump in
When a system has multithreaded applications, all the cores and all the
threads can come on at once.
first of the Nehalem processors will arrive in the fourth quarter of 2008, and
Intel will initially target gamers and PC enthusiasts
with a chip called
the Intel Core i7 for desktop PCs. Intel also showed the first eight-core
Nehalem-EX processor, which will be geared toward servers and is expected to
arrive early in 2009.
"Nehalem is the world's first dynamically scalable architecture,"
said Patrick Gelsinger, senior vice president at Intel and the general manager
of the Digital Enterprise Group.