updated 05:00 pm EDT, Tue September 26, 2006
Intel on quad-core, 45nm
At his keynote at the Intel Developer Forum, company CEO Otellini discussed new details around the company's plan for delivering the industry's first quad-core processors for PCs and high-volume servers. As reported previously, the first processor, targeted at gamers and content creators, will be ship in November and be called the Intel Core 2 Extreme quad-core processor, instead of the previously anticipated "Intel Core 2 Quadro." The quad-core chip will feature a dramatic 70 percent performance improvement over today's Intel Core 2 Extreme processor, according to the company. In addition, Intel's CEO touted a Core 2 Duo challenge and was joined on stage by Apple exec Phil Schiller, who talked about innovating using Intel's Core-based line of processors.
The Intel Core 2 Quad processor, the company's mainstream quad-core processor, will ship in the first quarter of 2007, Otellini said. For servers, the Quad-Core Intel Xeon processor 5300 series brand for dual processor servers will ship later year (as noted on Monday) and a new low-power 50-watt Quad-Core Xeon processor L5310 for blade servers will be ship in the first quarter of 2007.
Next-generation 45nm technology
Performance and energy efficiency "all start with the transistor" Otellini said, describing Intel's legacy of advancing Moore's Law and the company's silicon technology and manufacturing capability. Intel, the first to implement advanced 65nm silicon manufacturing technology in 2005, has integrated power-saving features into the process that were critical to delivering power-efficiency at the transistor level. Otellini said the company is now officially shipping the majority of its processors on 65nm.
Looking ahead, Intel's next-generation 45nm technology is on track for production in the second half of 2007 as planned. Otellini revealed for the first time that the company already has fifteen 45nm products already in development across desktop, mobile, and enterprise segments. The first of these products is on track to complete its design in the fourth quarter of this year. He described the company's extensive $9 billion factory network for 45nm production with more than 500,000 square feet of clean room space.
Peformance per Watt: Nahelem, Gesher coming
Otellini estimated that the "cadence" of these manufacturing process technologies which follow Moore's Law, coupled with Intel's plans to introduce new micro-architectures about every 2 years, will result in significant performance-per-watt improvement over today's Core micro-architecture products by 2010. He showed a chart that mapped out new micro-architectures coming in 2008 (code-named Nehalem and targeted at 45nm) followed by another in 2010 (code-named Gesher and targeted at 32nm). These new micro architectures will be developed by separate teams working in parallel, and targeted for intersection with specific future process technologies.
"By the end of the decade we will deliver a 300 percent increase in performance per watt over today's processors," he said. "This improved power and performance will enable developers and manufacturers to develop systems with incredibly exciting new capabilities."
To demonstrate how Moore's Law will continue well into the future with amazing potential, Otellini showed a new research prototype processor that has 80 floating point cores on a single die. The tiny silicon die on this experimental chip, just 300mm², is capable of achieving a Teraflop of performance, or 1 trillion floating point operations per second. He contrasted this with Intel's historic breakthrough 11 years ago with the world's first Teraflop supercomputer, a massive machine powered by nearly 10,000 Pentium Pro processors in more than 85 large cabinets occupying about 2,000 square feet.