SAN FRANCISCO—Intels 45- and 32-nanometer processors are on the way.
At the start of the 2007 Intel Developer Forum Sept. 18, CEO Paul Otellini used his opening keynote address to offer a working roadmap of the companys plans throughout the rest of the decade.
“My talk today is all about extremes; extremes in product, extremes in technology and extremes in usage,” Otellini said at the beginning of the keynote.
“Its also about how as an industry we have to come together to drive new technology into widespread adoption. In short, the theme of todays talk is extreme to mainstream. How its our jobs, as an industry, to drive technology from its inception into widespread adoption.”
As expected Otellini spent the majority of his keynote delving into Intels new Penryn family of 45-nanometer processors that use the companys Hi-k metal gate transistor processor technology, which reduces energy leakage and increases power.
The first of these Penryn processors will debut Nov. 12. At first, the Santa Clara, Calif., company will introduce about 15 new models for servers and high end PCs. Starting in the first half of 2008, Intel will introduce another 20 models, including some processors for laptops.
Otellini did not delve into the details of Penryn, although the company has publicly demonstrated models that run at 3.3GHz. Intel will also offer an L2 cache of 6MB for dual-core processors and 12MB for its quad-core models. The FSB (front side bus) desktop and server models will hit 1600MHz.
Intels main rival, Advanced Micro Devices, is not expected to offer processors on a 45-nanometer manufacturing process until later in 2008.
In addition to Penryn, Otellini held up a 300-milimeter wafer for the audience that contained the companys first 32-nanometer processors built with its soon-to-be released Nehalem microarchitecture. Although Nehalem will debut as new processor architecture in 2008 based on the companys 45-nanometer manufacturing processes, the first of the 32-nanometer chips will not arrive until 2009.
With Nehalem, Intel will offers its users between one and eight processing cores and also a modular design that will allow the company to change the size of the cache, the power envelope and even the I/O. Each of Nehalems cores will offer two threads, which means that on the high-end, an eight-core processor will offer up to 16 instructional threads.
Much like Penryn, the Nehalem test chip will use the companys Hi-k processor technology. However, the test 32-nanometer processor based on the Nehalem architecture will incorporate logic and SRAM (static random access memory) in order to house 1.9 billion transistors.
“This starts to give us the know-how and the confidence to build mainstream microprocessors on this technology in just a short two years,” Otellini said.
Finally, Nehalem will use Intels new QuickPath Interconnect system architecture, which includes an integrated memory controller. Intel has tried before to offer an integrated memory controller on its chips, but now the company seems to be moving ahead with those efforts thanks to Nehalem.
In addition to new processors, Otellini also delved into mobile platforms, which started with the original Centrino platform and continuing through the release of the new Centrino Pro mobile platform that debuted earlier this year. Since introducing the platform, Intel has shipped about five million units.
Otellini also talked about the company moving into new markets that will take advantage of the companys new platforms and processors for ultraportable devices.
In order to prepare for this, Otellini said that the company was moving forward with its “Montevina” mobile platform for laptops, which will arrive later in 2008 and offer both WiMax and Wi-Fi support along with 45-nanometer Penryn processors. Some of the dual-core processors in the Montevina platform will operate as low as 25 watts.
For ultraportable devices the company will roll out a new platform “Menlow” platform, which use 45-nanometer processors called Silverthorne that will create a much smaller footprint and require less power.
Roger Kay, the president of Endpoint Technologies Associates, said that while the opening keynote lack any major surprises, the companys message was their guarantee to customers and vendors that the technology will make it to the marketplace on schedule.
“Their message to the marketplace is that the technology is out there and it will be delivered on schedule,” Kay said. “While there were no surprises, Intel is looking at the long-term picture and telling customers what it has and what the timetable is to deliver it.”