Intel: Quad-Core Is Just the Beginning

 
 
By John G. Spooner  |  Posted 2006-09-26
 
 
 

SAN FRANCISCO—Quad-core processors are only the beginning of what a revitalized Intel has to offer, the companys top executives said here Sept. 26.

The chip maker will deliver in November its first quad-core processors—chips that incorporate four processors each—for both desktops and servers, said CEO Paul Otellini here, in an opening keynote speech at the Intel Developer Forum.

The quad-core chips themselves will offer up to 70 percent greater performance in desktops and 50 percent in servers.

However, Intel will continue to push for greater performance, using a combination of more advanced multicore chips, improvements in processor microarchitecture—updating the circuitry that underlies its chips—and more advanced manufacturing technologies.

The company believes that combination will allow it to deliver a 300 percent increase in performance per watt—the amount of work a chip can perform for a given amount of energy it consumes—by the end of the decade, Otellini said.

"The initial quad-core products will be targeted for the enthusiast or the gamer segment of the marketplace. This becomes the first quad-core chip in the industry…that is designed for a desktop processor," Otellini said.

However, "What we will commit to you for these three [Intel processor microarchitecture] generations is a 300 percent increase between now and the end of the decade," Otellini said.

Underscoring the point, he pointed to a recently minted prototype chip, part of Intels Tera-Scale computing research, that incorporates 80 relatively simple processor cores and is capable of delivering performance of 1 teraflop or 1 trillion calculations per second.

The chips 80 cores are simpler than those that will be found in its quad-core processors.

However, each chip can deliver 10 gigaflops per watt in performance while running at 3.1GHz.

"We think that the capability embodied by this prototype chip will be enabled in a five-year window," Otellini said.

"This kind of performance gives us the capability to imagine things like real-time video search… or speech translation from one language to another."

While 80-core chips are theoretically possible, the things that will make it happen will be chip manufacturing and transistor designs, he said.

Intels 65-nanometer processor shipments, for one, passed those of its 90-nanometer chips for the first time this September.

Transistors inside the 65-nanometer chips offer 30 percent better performance and up to five times reduction in leakage or power wasted when a transistor is switched off.

"This week we will have shipped our 40 millionth 65-nanometer processor," Otellini said. "The rest of the industry has shipped a grand total of zero."

Intel intends to move to 45-nanometer manufacturing in 2007, Otellini said.

Click here to read more about the buzz surrounding Intels fall chip fest.

Its 45-nanometer transistors will deliver a 20 percent performance boost with up to five times reduction in leakage.

It will deliver new architectures: Nehalem in 2008 and Gesher in 2010.

Intels first quad-core chips, meanwhile, will include its Core 2 Extreme quad-core for desktops and its Xeon 5300 for workstation and server. The chips will come out in November.

During the first quarter of 2007, Intel will roll out a mainstream quad-core processor under the brand name of Core 2 Quad, Otellini said.

Alienware, Dell, Gateway, Voodoo and Velocity Micro will be among about 13 PC makers to offer quad-core chips in November.

The Core 2 Extreme quad core will use about 130-watts of power, or about the same amount previous extreme chips used, Intel executives said.

However, the company will offer three versions of its Xeon 5300 quad-core chip, including one that consumes only 50 watts.

"Much has been written in the last year about Intel losing its leadership…in the sever space," Otellini said.

"Weve now regained our leadership, and these products are gaining traction access the marketplace and around the world."

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