Friday, December 21, 2007

Intel Set to Postpone Introduction of New Quad-Core Microprocessors

Intel Corp. may postpone the actual release of its quad-core microprocessors produced using 45nm process technology due to an undisclosed defect and the fact that both Intel and its partners have a lot of central processing units (CPUs) with four processing engines made using 65nm tech in stock. It is unclear whether the delay will affect the world’s largest x86 chipmaker financially.

Initially Intel planned to roll-out its code-named Wolfdale and Yorkfield microprocessors that are projected to be marketed under Intel Core 2 Duo and Core 2 Extreme brand-names on the 10th of January, 2008. But the plans have changed and, according to a news-story at HKEPC web-site, Intel will only be able to release dual-core Intel Core 2 Duo 8000-series (Wolfdale) processors in February, while Intel Core 2 Quad 9000-series (Yorkfield) will only see the light of the day in February or March.

The media report claims that Intel has discovered a “slight processor system bus defect” in its quad-core processors code-named Yorkfield. In addition, there are Intel Core 2 Quad 6000-series processors made at 65nm process technology, which are still unbeatable by AMD Phenom rivals with four processing engines. In fact, the release of the Intel Core Q9000-series chips would negatively affect sales of already available quad-core products.

Currently Intel commercially ships a family of processors made using 45nm process technology, which includes its Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9650 processor for high-end desktops and workstations as well as a lineup of various Intel Xeon processors with two or four processing engines for dual-pcoressor workstations.

Each of Intel’s dual-core central processing units made using 45nm process technology have 410 million transistors, up significantly from 291 million of current dual-core Conroe processors, however, thanks to 45nm process technology, the chips will have die size of 107 square millimeters, down about 25% from 155 square millimeters of the Conroe, which means significant cost reduction. Intel’s quad-core chips consist of two dual-core dice on a single piece of substrate.

Intel’s new CPUs produced using 45nm process technology have greater instructions per clock (IPC) execution, which means that they will be faster and more efficient even at the same clock-speeds with the current generation chips. Besides, the new chips should be able to run at higher clock-speeds compared to today’s Core 2 Duo and Core 2 Quad products.

The major micro-architectural improvements for new Intel Core 2 processors, besides SSE4 instruction set, include the so-called Unique Super Shuffle Engine and Radix 16 technique. The Super Shuffle Engine is a full-width, single-pass shuffle unit that is 128-bits wide, which can perform full-width shuffles in a single cycle. This significantly improves performance for SSE2, SSE3 and SSE4 instructions that have shuffle-like operations such as pack, unpack and wider packed shifts. This feature will increase performance for content creation, imaging, video and high-performance computing. Radix 16 technique, according to Intel, roughly doubles the divider speed over previous generations for computations used in nearly all applications. In addition, Intel also improved virtualization technology as well as added some features to dynamic acceleration technology, which is supposed to boost single-threaded applications’ performance on multi-core chips.

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