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Penryn Predictions (And Nehalem Info)
Monday 14th May, 2007 03:20 Comments: 0
Intel's Penryn processor will appear in Q3 2007, at speeds of 2.33-3.33Hz, and will reach 3.6GHz before being replaced/surpassed by Nehalem. Penryn will offer similar performance at the same clock speed to AMD's Barcelona, but SSE4 optimized applications will walk all over AMD, and Intel will offer faster clock speeds for the same price, keeping Intel on top. This isn't surprising given that Penryn has been demonstrated since the very start of 2007 (at around 2GHz), while AMD only recently finished their B0 Barcelona design that gave a big (~500MHz) improvement in clock speed (allowing them to launch up to 2.9GHz). Intel recently demonstrated a 3.33GHz part.

There will also be Xeon versions of Penryn, which run at a 1600MHz bus (instead of 1333MHz), but these will be more expensive, and I'd need faster RAM and I'd probably end up having to replace it with DDR3 stuff when Nehalem arrives, so I can't imagine any consumers buying it, and possibly not many businesses.

It looks like Nehalem could be launched in 2008, which means I mght have to change my plan of buying Penryn and Nehalem over the summers of 2008 and 2009 to buying it at the start of the summers (or even Spring 2008 and Spring 2009).

Making a return with Nehalem is the ability for single cores to run multiple threads as Intel has added a "hyper threading" like SMT feature. Nehalem will also introduce the first multi-level shared cache architecture that will allow the different cores on a processor to share data at the L1 and possibly L3 cache levels in addition to the current L2 cache sharing implemented on the Core architecture. This can allow for better data sharing between cores and increase performance for highly threaded applications. There's also talk of 1-8+ cores, offering 1-16+ threads, which suggests that an 8 core 45nm chip might be possible, although it's unclear whether the cache will be smaller (perhaps possible if shared correctly) or if they plan on making the chip larger. Nehalem will add on-die memory controllers, much like AMD's, and there's talk of an (off-die) integrated graphics in the CPU package! It appears this will all use the Common System Interface, similar to AMD's HyperTransport, which I hoped would be a good thing, but - perhaps rather ominously - it sounds like a number of Intel developers involved in CSI have since left.
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