Intel Penryn and Nehalem Details

Intel discussed some details about their future CPUs in a briefing held yesterday. First up, let me list some of the articles floating out on the web about Intel’s future chips, Penryn and Nehalem.

Just briefly, Penryn is the 45nm derivative of the 65nm Conroe/Merom that’s currently selling under the Core 2 moniker, and is slated to launch sometime late this year. Nehalem will come after Penryn in 2008-2009, when the 45nm process is mature and will be based on a new microarchitecture.

Penryn itself isn’t just a die shrink of Conroe/Merom. It will pack additional enhancements including improved low power states (more battery life is always good for laptops), more cache, SSE4, improvements for FP and Int operations, and enhanced virtualization support. Of course, you can expect a nice increase in clock and FSB speeds as well. The performance increase over the current Core 2 generation is estimated to be anywhere from 20% in games (for dual core) to over 40% in FP/bandwidth intensive applications (quad core). The numbers were comparing a 3.2GHz (1600MHz FSB) Penryn to a 3GHz (1333MHz FSB) Conroe and a 3GHz+ Penryn-based quad core to a 2.67GHz Kentsfield. The presentation was apparently run on a 3.33GHz (1333MHz FSB) Penryn, to show that it is well on its way to full production later this year.

Next up after Penryn on the Intel roadmap is Nehalem. Nehalem is a much larger architectural change from Conroe than Penryn. Nehalem will have an integrated memory controller (IMC) as well as bring the Common System Interface (CSI). All Athlon64s have IMC’s and CSI is extremely similar to AMD’s HyperTransport. Intel may be playing a little catch-up in these areas, but when Conroe is already performing so well in comparison to the AMD’s K8, it’s not a huge leap of faith to think that Nehalem will be good competition for whatever AMD has in the pipe. Additionally, in response to AMD’s widely publicized plans to integrate graphics with the CPU (AMD’s Fusion project), Intel stated that Nehalem can have an optional graphics core bolted on.

Whatever the match up between Penryn/Nehalem and AMD’s future products, I’m really liking Intel’s new open attitude. When AMD was putting the hurt on Intel in the NetBurst days, they were very closed. But ever since those pre-announced Conroe performance numbers, Intel has been on the upswing, not afraid to put information out there in the hands of partners and potential customers. AMD has also shared some information, but so far, nothing to this degree. I’d love to see what Barcelona’s packing. I can hardly wait for 2008!


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