Intel Preps Six Penryn CPUs For 2007, Nehalem CPUs For 2008

Just weeks before its developer's forum in Bejiing, key Intel executives said it will begin producing dual-core and quad-core processors, a dual-core mobile processor, dual- and quad-core Xeon processors and one high-end multiprocessing (MP) server chip as part of its Penryn platform later in 2007.

The technology will enable Intel to offer desktop and server processors at speeds greater than 3 GHz and a 20 percent performance improvement over the current line of "Merom" and "Conroe" processors, said Pat Gelsinger, senior vice president and general manager of Intel's Digital Enterprise Group, in a U.S briefing Wednesday.

"We said we'd retool and deliver a [tick-tock] model where we can deliver major new technology into the marketplace," Gelsinger said, adding that the upcoming Penryn processors on Core 2 micro-architecture -- the tick -- and the next-generation Nehalem micro-architecture in 2008 -- the tock -- will fuel grow in 2007 and 2008.

Penryn is based on Intel's existing Core 2 micro-architecture. But it is also the lead "vehicle" for the company's newly implemented 45-nanometer manufacturing process and High K + metal gate process technology, which Intel says represents the first major redesign of the transistor in 30 years.

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As part of that, the Santa Clara, Calif.-based chipmaker plans to ship second-generation quad-core processors with up to 12 megabytes of cache and dual-core processors with up to 6 megabytes.

It will also offer Advanced Smart Cache -- larger caches of 6 megabytes or 12 megabytes -- and faster Radix-16 technology to speed up Intel Virtualization Technology's virtual machine switching by an average of 25 to 75 percent, he said.

The Penryn processor introduces a "Super Shuffle" Streaming SIMD Extensions E4 (SSE4) set of instructions for advanced digital media boost, which will improve performance of video, photo imaging, games and graphics. The new smart memory access in the enhanced Core architecture also enables higher bus speeds, Intel said.

A 20 percent improvement in reducing leakage means Intel will be able to deliver the Penryn dual- and quad-core processors in the same 130-watt, 95-watt and 65-watt thermal envelopes as today.

On the mobile side, Intel will launch a new Deep Power Down sleep state technology to improve battery life in laptops, and a Dynamic Acceleration technology that shifts performance to one core for single threaded applications

Meanwhile, Intel is also preparing its next-generation Nehalem platform, which represents the company's most significant shift in system architecture since the Pentium Pro debuted in 1996, Gelsinger said.

In some ways similar to AMD's architecture, Nehalam will offer integrated system interconnects, memory controllers and graphics engine on a single die.

The Nehalem processors, due to move into production in 2008, will introduce a new level of scalable performance and management. For example, Nehalam processors will offer simultaneous multithreading, dynamically managed cores, threads, caches, interfaces and power and dynamic power management, Intel said.

It is also Intel's first dynamic and scalable micro-architecture, supporting between one and 16+ threads, up to 8 cores and scalable cache sizes, said Gelsinger. It can be tuned and customized for different market segments.

"This is a major shift in systems architecture ... a big leap the biggest systems architecture [shift] since Pentrium Pro," the Intel executive said during the telephone briefing on Wednesday. "You'll see different products for different market segments."

System builders are getting ready for a barrage of new products from AMD in 2007 and 2008 but are confident Intel will maintain its strong technological momentum.

"Intel's road map is very impressive. The Core 2 Duo and new Xeon processors have been very well received by customers and have put Intel back into a position they haven't been in a long time," said Todd Swank, vice president of marketing at Nor-tech, a system builder in Burnsville, Minn. "If what they're saying about Penryn and Nehalem is true, it seems that their technology will be in high demand for the foreseeable future."

Two years later, Intel plans to launch its "Westmere" processors based on a derivative of Nehalem on 32 nanometer manufacturing technology and a new micro-architecture currently code named "Gesher."