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  • SiS: FSB 1333MHz for Core 2 Quad
  • Intel talks about the Nehalem
  • Intel to give more detail about the Penryn
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     SiS: FSB 1333MHz for Core 2 Quad
      Posted on 29/03/2007 at 21:30 by Nicolas - source: SiS
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    SiS announced to have obtained a license from Intel to produce chipset supporting officially a FSB of 1333MHz with Core 2 Quad processors. Curiously, if Intel will introduce from the third quarter processors will similar FSB frequencies, the Core 2 Duo E6550, E6750 and E6850, the press release of the Taiwanese manufacturer only mentions the quad core version of the Core 2. Is this an inconsistency or a strange agreement with Intel? The question doesn't have an answer yet. If SiS would have indeed renounced to a FSB 1333MHz license for Core 2 Duo, this wouldn't however be dramatic since the performance improvements due to the FSB increase from 1066MHz to 1333MHz with dual core processors isn't that great.

     Intel talks about the Nehalem
      Posted on 29/03/2007 at 02:24 by Franck
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    Intel has unveiled some information about the Nehalem, the second generation of processors using the duo High-K and 45 nm fabrication process. Nehalem is presented as a new micro-architecture, unlike the Penryn which is mainly a die-shrink, even if it has the same base as the Core architecture. Apparently, even if this information hasn't been confirmed, it won't work with Socket 775 motherboards but with a new Socket LGA1336.

    Amongst the innovations, there is the number of cores which will reach up to 8 (2 dies of 4 core each) to execute simultaneously 16 threads. Indeed, each core will be able to process two threads in parallel. This is the comeback of the SMT (Simultaneous Multi-Threading) with a similar concept to the HyperThreading of the Netburst. Just like the HT of the Pentium 4, the SMT of the Nehalem is meant to optimize the use of the processor resources but this time to improve the global performance /energy consumption ratio. According to Intel, the improvement brought by the SMT will mainly concern server environments.

    Intel also speaks of « multi level shared cache », which implies the presence of a shared L3 cache additionally to the L2 cache. The cores energy management will be dynamic and independent and the memory controller will be integrated to the CPU, just like AMD! The processor bus will be replaced by a new bus series (known as CSI, for “Common System Interface”) similar to the Hyper-Transport in principle and which will interconnects CPUs in a multi CPU configuration. The number of these connections will be, like with AMD, variable according to the line of product just like the cache size, the number of cores or the type of memory controller (standard DDR3 or FB-DIMM a apparently). This will help Intel to meet the requirements of each market.

    Intel also dropped a bombshell by announcing that it will be possible to have, in option, a graphic controller integrated to the processor! Of course even if the presentation titled « High Performance Integrated graphics » it is likely that the performances might be similar to entry level products - not so long ago, Intel qualified the IGP as « Extreme Graphics »! This is Intel's answer to the Fusion initiative of ATI and AMD which will regroup GPU and CPU in the same die. In the long term, this announcement let us believe that the IGP market will have a hard time. Intel says that the production will begin in 2008 and mass production in 2009. At this date, our eyes will be focused on the Westmere, die-shrink 32nm and the new architecture named Gesher. To finish, we have to add that that even if it is always pleasant to have a manufacturer talking about the functionalities of future products, this operation is only meant to get some attention while everyone is waiting for some news from AMD and the Athlon 64 X4.

     Intel to give more detail about the Penryn
      Posted on 29/03/2007 at 00:28 by Franck
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    Intel has decided to unveil additional details concerning the future evolutions of their processor line starting with the Penryn. Some details have already been officially published (see this news or this one) about this evolution which is mainly presented as a « die-shrink » of current processors: 45nm fabrication process with high-k technology and a number of transistors increased from 290 to 410 million because of the L2 cache improvement from 4 to 6 MB.

    The Penryn core with 6 MB of L2 cache

    First thing first, Intel confirmed to be on schedule to enter production during the second half even if it doesn't mean that the entire product range will be available this year. Frequencies announced are unsurprisingly superior to 3 GHz. We remind you that for desktops, new platforms based on the P35 to be released in June or the X38 in September will be required.

    For power consumption, Intel chose not to reduce the TDP to have higher performances: the TDP of the dual core Wolfdale will be of 65 watt and the quad core Yorkfield will be of 95 to 130 watts (instead of 105 to 130 currently). FSBs won't increase for desktops: 1333 for dual core, 1066 for quad core and 1600 for server.

    What about architectural improvements?
    1/ faster divisions
    Intel hasn't thought that it was necessary to change the already very efficient calculation units of the core architecture except for the unit in charge of the division. The division is one of the slowest arithmetical operations ran by the processor. It is interesting to note about this that Intel and AMD use radically different techniques. Intel's processors use, like we do, the Euclidean method: one divider and one dividend are associated to one quotient and the remainder. The processor cut the division into pieces and it means that with each cycle, only a specific number of bits are processed. The operation is relatively slow (the number of cycles depend on the size of the dividend), but it is accurate.

    AMD's processors use a method of approximation based on tables and multiplications. The operation is processed much faster but micro-coded tables are resource-consuming. AMD's processor only uses this technique for floating-point divisions and whole divisions have to go through an initial phase to change the type of division (this considerably reduces their efficiency). The operation is quick (at least for floating-point calculations) but approximate. AMD seems, however, to have given up this method with the K10 to focus on the Euclidean.

    Would Intel have been scared that the last born of AMD's family might be more efficient for divisions? Anyhow, if the Core processes two bits per cycle (this is the Radix-4), Penryn will process four (Radix-16). Other more complex operations including divisions will also beneficiate from this technique. This is the case of square root calculations which have been particularly optimized. This type of operation is intensively used by 3D geometrical engines.

    2 / Super Shuffle and SSE4
    Two points of the SSE have been improved. The first one is the acceleration of shuffle instructions; instructions mixing data of several SSE registers heavily used for video encoding and decoding.

    There is also a new set of instructions: SSE4. More information on this set are available in this page. Fifteen instructions or so will be available. Many of them will bring general improvements and others in more specific domains such as the calculation of CRC value. Of course, programs will have to be written or compiled to take these instructions in account and this is the reason why they won't improve performances of current programs.
    3/ Energie : IDA (Intel Dynamic Acceleration) and Deep Power Down
    The technique of dynamic acceleration IDA isn't really specific to the Penryn. It has already been implemented to some future models of Core 2 Duo Merom working with the Santa Rosa mobile platform (scheduled to be released in May). Therefore, it is presented as being solely relating to energy consumption even if we believe that its possibilities are far beyond this perspective.

    The objective of IDA consists in boosting the performances of one of the two cores when the other is inactive. For example, with one double core processor clocked t 2.2 GHz, the inactivity of one core leads to the acceleration of the second one at 2.4 GHz. The global thermal envelope is inferior to what it should be if the two cores were clocked at 2.2 GHz while ensuring superior performances of the thread processed by the active core. Thanks to this trick, mono applications are accelerated while maintaining reasonable thermal dissipation. It is unfortunate though that this technique is only implemented to mobile platforms even if of course in the case of a computer with overclocking the possibility to deactivate it must be available!

    To finish, we noted that the Mobile version of the Penryn can enter an additional state named “Deep Power Down”. It is designed to increase a little bit more the autonomy of laptop computers. In this mode, and this is new, the L1 & L2 caches are simply cut out.

    What about performances?
    For this part, we will have to make do with the figures given by Intel.

    For a game environment, micro-architectural improvements, size increase of the L2 cache and higher frequencies of the Penryn leads to, according to Intel, 20% performance improvements between the Penryn 3.2 GHz and Conroe 3.0 GHz. The optimizations brought to Shuffle and SSE4 instructions would allow, in comparison with SSE3, performance improvements of 40% for video encoding. Wait & See!

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