Anand and I had a discussion about a year ago that went something along the lines of "2005 is going to be sooooo boring for Intel and AMD". But then a week later, AMD and Intel both started announcing dual core stuff internally and 2005 has been one of the better processor slugfests that we have seen yet. After passing up the last few roadmaps due to various tradeshows and NDAs, we decided to plunge into the most recent Intel roadmaps and really take an in-depth look at what is coming up for the next year or so.

We have talked extensively about Yonah - the dual core successor to Dothan - without much attention to its clock speed and other features. The latest roadmap has provided quite a bit of new information about several of the cores. We'll take a more in-depth look at Yonah, Presler and Cedar Mill in this update.

Desktop

Over the last month we were bombarded by dual core announcements and releases from AMD and Intel. Not only because dual core is an interesting and new concept to desktop computing, but also because after all of the hype, AMD and Intel were both able to deliver fairly good products (both AMD [RTPE: AMD Opteron Italy] and Intel [RTPE: "Pentium D"] are shipping already). Inevitably, there have been some pretty major changes to Intel's product naming, for starters:
  • Pentium 4 Extreme Edition processors are now simply named Pentium Extreme Edition. Although these processors are nothing more than best of breed server and desktop cores, they will now have their own product category at least. (This started with the most recent dual core Pentium XE.)
  • Pentium 4 now only refers to the single core Prescott and upcoming 65nm Cedar Mill cores. Pentium D will refer to Smithfield and 65nm Presler.
  • All 5x1 processors are now 64-bit enabled.
  • All 6x2 processors are now VT enabled.
  • All 6x3 processors are 65nm Cedar Mill (which has VT enabled).
Let's take a look at the upcoming dual core roadmap.

Intel Dual Core Performance Desktop Lineup LGA775

Processor

Speed

L2 Cache

FSB

Launch

Pentium D 950

3.40GHz

2x2MB

800MHz

Q1'06

Pentium D 940

3.20GHz

2x2MB

800MHz

Q1'06

Pentium D 930

3.00GHz

2x2MB

800MHz

Q1'06

Pentium D 920

2.80GHz

2x2MB

800MHz

Q1'06

Pentium D 840

3.20GHz

2x1MB

800MHz

Now

Pentium D 830

3.00GHz

2x1MB

800MHz

Now

Pentium D 820

2.80GHz

2x1MB

800MHz

Now


Aside from the additional cache, also note that the new 9xx series processors are the same 65nm Presler cores mentioned earlier. Presler will in fact be nothing but two Cedar Mill cores sharing the same package, just as Smithfield is only two Prescotts sharing the same core. Shrinking to 65nm frees up a considerable amount of space on the die, so moving to 2MB L2 cache seems logical. Also, all 9xx processors will have EIST enabled, whereas only the 840 and 830 Pentium D processors have EIST. That makes sense for 8xx, as EIST currently just drops the CPU speed to 2.8 GHz; we would hope that the 9xx models will improve the functionality of EIST. EM64T and XD are supported on all upcoming processors. The last final addition to the 9xx line is VT, or Vanderpool Technology.

We have discussed Vanderpool in the past (first in 2003), but it seems like there is still a large amount of confusion regarding the technology. Vanderpool - and AMD's competing technology, "Pacifica" - enable a CPU to run multiple operating systems on a single CPU at the same time. The particular demos that we have seen show four operating systems running on a single machine independent of each other. Unfortunately, this requires BIOS support, Chipset support and Processor support, not to mention OS support. Intel claims that VT will roll out on the 6xx processor line before the end of the year, so we expect 945 and 955 to fully support VT as of now, since the next chipset revision from Intel won't come until Q2'06 (Broadwater).

Intel Single Core Performance Desktop Lineup LGA775

Processor

Speed

L2 Cache

FSB

Launch

Pentium 4 672

3.80GHz

2MB

800MHz

Q4'05

Pentium 4 663

3.60GHz

2MB

800MHz

Q1'06

Pentium 4 662

3.60GHz

2MB

800MHz

Q4'05

Pentium 4 653

3.40GHz

2MB

800MHz

Q1'06

Pentium 4 643

3.20GHz

2MB

800MHz

Q1'06

Pentium 4 633

3.00GHz

2MB

800MHz

Q1'06

Pentium 4 631

3.00GHz

2MB

800MHz

Q1'06

Pentium 4 571

3.80GHz

1MB

800MHz

Soon

Pentium 4 561

3.60GHz

1MB

800MHz

Soon

Pentium 4 551

3.40GHz

1MB

800MHz

Soon

Pentium 4 541

3.20GHz

1MB

800MHz

Soon

Pentium 4 531

3.00GHz

1MB

800MHz

Soon

Pentium 4 521

2.80GHz

1MB

800MHz

Soon


With 13 new performance SKUs in the next year, Intel certainly has its work cut out. The new 5x1 processors are set to launch before the end of this month, although the only real advantage that they have over the existing 5x0 and 5x0J chips is EM64T support. The interesting processors (highlighted in bold) are the upcoming 65nm Cedar Mill cores. Roadmaps hint that Cedar Mill will top out at 95W TDP per core and 3.80GHz is the highest clock on the roadmap. The Pentium 4 551 has a TDP of 84W. The roadmap also reveals that the prices of the 6xx line will cut dramatically mid-August, and VT enabled Prescott 2M (Pentium 4 672 and Pentium 4 662) will retain a premium over their non-VT counterparts.

As we mentioned earlier, two Cedar Mills running at lower clock speeds will compose a Presler dual core processor (Smithfield's replacement). HyperThreading, EIST, XD and EM64T are enabled on all of these new processors. Furthermore, all Cedar Mill chips will also receive VT technology, with the exception of the Pentium 4 631. The Pentium 4 631 and 633 are identical except the absence of VT in the 631. We're not entirely sure why the 631 is even being produced, other than to perhaps fill a niche market. All of the Cedar Mill cores clearly have VT support (as do the Prescott 2M cores), so why Intel would want to deactivate it in one model is anyone's guess.

With both 65nm Presler and 65nm Cedar Mill, the interesting thing to note is how low the FSB clock speeds remain. We had almost expected next generation Pentium processors to ramp up to 1066FSB after the most recent Pentium 4 EE utilized 1066FSB. In fact, Intel relaunched its 925X motherboard lineup (with 925XE) to support the faster bus, and all current generation motherboards make a big deal of supporting 1066FSB. As our tests revealed, 1066FSB did virtually nothing to improve performance on the 3.46EE over 800FSB. The conservative FSB speeds on Presler and Cedar Mill indicate to us that Intel probably did nothing to shorten Prescott's pipeline, although there may be other reasons why they have decided to keep the bus speed low as well.

Desktop Roadmaps Continued
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  • Reflex - Tuesday, June 14, 2005 - link

    VT/Pacifica is a niche technology, that much is for certain. It will definatly help the server segment(imagine 4 'machine' clusters that are all running on the same hardware) and some enthusiasts may like it(although I bet most won't use it often to maximize performance), but its not going to take the world by storm or anything.

    As for Yonah and power savings, remember that the entire platform must be compared to comparable AMD solutions, not just the CPU. AMD builds most northbridge functions(memory controller being the obvious one) into thier CPU which saves a considerable amount of power, and allows single chip chipset solutions like nForce to be practical. Measuring power consumption of just the CPU's without the supporting platform is apples to oranges.
    Reply
  • StriderGT - Tuesday, June 14, 2005 - link

    And in order to be 100% precise :-) Dual OS natively is brought to x86 for the first time through these two technologies. The current solutions require emulation/software layer and thus exhibit higher overheads.

    The problem though lies in the fact that even dual cores under the same OS can not cope with heavy multitasking (eg two heavy applications) without a significant perf. penalty for both. So as correctly pointed in this site, its another thing to increase heavy multitasking performance and another to actually use those scenarios since the hit will be noticeable. The same logic applies even more exaggerated in the case of two OSes and their apps running concurrently... (and by that I do not mean Solitaire XP together with Opera for Linux; this is something even Vanderpool can do :-)
    Reply
  • StriderGT - Tuesday, June 14, 2005 - link

    #14 I totally agree with you, but that does not change the fact that VT/Pacifica is a niche feature at best (admins, testers etc) Reply
  • KristopherKubicki - Tuesday, June 14, 2005 - link

    StriderGT: Well dual OSes can be done right now with overhead; thats what VMware, UML and such are for. Part of the goal is to minimize overhead. VT nor Pacifica are limited to dual core CPUs by the way.

    Kristopher
    Reply
  • StriderGT - Tuesday, June 14, 2005 - link

    I do not think that anyone besides administrators would need VT, let alone use such a thing. DualBoot seems bulky but its way faster and more robust. A real usage scenario would require you to boot in XP to play games reboot in Linux to surf or whatever, otherwise two OSes running together will impose a real overhead. So you only gain the few mins or secs between each boot and lose performacewise. Its more like look what dual cores can do feature than what most peole will do... Reply
  • cscpianoman - Tuesday, June 14, 2005 - link

    Interesting, but I would like to have a chart of AMD to the side. Is this coming tomorrow?

    Of all the chips Yonah looks the most promising and yet as I was glancing through it would be confined to certain applications. The energy requirements are stellar! I would love to see how AMD is going to compete.
    Reply
  • KristopherKubicki - Tuesday, June 14, 2005 - link

    StriderGT: Actually I think VT is pretty neat. I run Linux on one machine and Windows for work. Putting both on the same computer would be really awesome.

    Kristopher
    Reply
  • StriderGT - Tuesday, June 14, 2005 - link

    hope so 2 #9 :-) because otherwise we will stick to "virtualized" performance gains... Can u say Vanderpooled?!? A real show stopper for desktop users!

    BTW I forgot to give a thumbs up to intel engineers for their latest innovation. The dual core superglue.

    PS I think that marketing dep of intel devoured their last real engineers long ago. So now they meet apple and we get platformization en extremis... I love this buzzzzzzzzzzwordzzzzzzzz
    Reply
  • flatblastard - Tuesday, June 14, 2005 - link

    Sure hope AMD has their floatation devices handy. Reply
  • KristopherKubicki - Tuesday, June 14, 2005 - link

    Kensei: Ooops - fixed.

    Kristopher
    Reply

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