Thursday, November 29, 2007

Intel’s Mainstream Nehalem Chips Expected to Eliminate North Bridge Necessity

Intel’s code-named Nehalem processors have been projected to tangibly change Intel-based personal computer (PC) architecture thanks to new micro-architecture and built-in memory controller. But the actual transformation of Intel PC platform may be even more dramatic, as the forthcoming chips will have built-in graphics core and PCI Express support.

The first version of the Nehalem processor family will be the code-named Bloomfield chip aimed at extreme desktops/workstations, high-end desktops and servers as well as on some other quite expensive systems. The central processing unit (CPU) will have built-in triple-channel memory controller, will use Quick Path Interconnect (QPI) bus to connect to other chips within the system and will utilize LGA1366 form-factor. In general, Bloomfield-based PC platforms will resemble traditional AMD64 system architecture with CPU, North Bridge and I/O controller.

But microprocessors from the Nehalem family aimed at mainstream market – code-named Lynnfield and Havendale – will have substantial differences compared to Bloomfield, which will catalyze dramatic changes to PC architecture going forward, reports PC Watch web-site.

Intel’s Lynnfield processor is a Nehalem micro-architecture-based monolith quad-core microprocessor in LGA1160 form-factor with dual-channel DDR3 memory controller as well as PCI Express 2.0 x16 interface to connect add-on graphics cards.

Intel’s Havendale processor is multi-chip module (MCM) in LGA1160 form-factor containing Nehalem micro-architecture-based dual-core CPU as well as graphics and memory controller hub (GMCH) that features dual-channel DDR3 memory controller, PCI Express 2.0 x16 interface to connect add-on graphics cards as well as integrated graphics core. It is projected that both chips on the MCM are made using 45nm process technology.

Since both Lynnfield and Havendale have memory controller as well as PCI Express interconnection inside, there will be no need for GMCH (or North Bridge) on the mainboard. Instead, the new processors will connect directly to code-named Ibexpeak platform controller hub (PCH) that will carry hard drive controller, wired and wireless network controllers, monitor physical interfaces, PCI controller and other input/output as well as platform-related capabilities.

If today’s mainstream personal computers usually employ three chips that feature the core functionality of the system – CPU, (G)MCH and I/O controller – then in the Nehalem era mainstream systems will be based only on two chips: CPU and PCH. Both Lynnfield and Havendale are projected to emerge in the first half of 2009.

Intel officials did not comment on the news-story.

No comments:

Post a Comment