Tick-Tock: U R Doin it Right

Let’s check the stats; Conroe in July 2006, Penryn in October 2007, Nehalem in November 2008. That’s a tock, tick, and another tock, each about a year apart. Note that the cadence does appear to be slipping a bit, but we’ll see exactly when in 2009 we get Westmere before making any accusations.

The next tick is, as I just mentioned, Westmere. It’s a 32nm shrink of Nehalem, much like Penryn was a 45nm shrink of Conroe/Merom. And it’s due out in the fourth quarter of this year.

Yesterday, Intel demonstrated working versions of its 32nm processors in both desktops and notebooks. The notebook aspect of the demonstration is very important, which I’ll get to later. Both mobile and desktop versions of Westmere will be shipping from Intel in Q4.

Getting Complicated with Code Names

Nehalem is the overall name for Intel’s 45nm desktop/mobile/server product family. At the high end we have Bloomfield, which is the quad-core, eight-thread, Core i7 processor we all long for. That’s the only Nehalem derivative that’s launched thus far.

Segment Manufacturing Process Socket Processor Cores Threads Release Date
High End Desktop 45nm LGA-1366 Bloomfield 4 8 Q4 2008
Mainstream Desktop 45nm LGA-1156 Lynnfield 4 8 2H 2009
Mobile 45nm mPGA-989 Clarksfield 4 8 2H 2009
4S Server 45nm LGA-1567 Nehalem-EX 8 16 2H 2009
2S Server 45nm LGA-1366 Nehalem-EP 4 8 1H 2009
1S Server 45nm LGA-1156 Lynnfield 4 8 2H 2009

 

By the end of this year we’ll see Lynnfield and Clarksfield. These are both quad-core, eight-thread Nehalem processors but at lower TDPs and price points. They will fit into Intel’s unannounced LGA-1156 socket and only support two channels of DDR3 memory (compared to LGA-1366 and 3-channels with Core i7).

On the server side we’ll have Nehalem-EX, an 8-core, 16-thread version. Nehalem EP a 4-core, 8-thread version. And Lynnfield again for the entry level servers.

These are all 45nm parts and all due out by the end of this year.

Note that there’s one name missing: Havendale. Havendale was supposed to be a 2-core Lynnfield + on-chip graphics, perfect for notebooks and low end desktops where quad-core isn’t necessary. Unfortunately, Havendale got delayed until Q4 2009 with systems shipping in Q1 2010. That just happened to coincide with Intel’s 32nm ramp so a very significant decision was made: Havendale got scrapped.

Fat Pockets, Dense Cache, Bad Pun Enter the 32nm Lineup
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  • Calin - Wednesday, February 11, 2009 - link

    [quote]but at 45nm Intel’s switched from a SiO2 gate dielectric to a high-k one using Halfnium[/quote]

    It's Hafnium (even if halfnium sounds better)
    Reply
  • aapocketz - Wednesday, February 11, 2009 - link

    hafnium is great for dielectrics. I hope their yields are good since its very expensive. Most CVD processes are only efficient in the single digit %. Reply
  • MrPoletski - Wednesday, February 11, 2009 - link

    doesn't sound as good as unobtanium. Reply
  • melgross - Wednesday, February 11, 2009 - link

    I just don't see how AMD competes, long term. With Intel moving to 32nm faster than expected, and with mainstream parts, that would put them 18 months ahead of AMD, unless somehow, they manage to pull off a similar coup. But it doesn't look as though they will be able to.

    We might remember that a bit over a year ago, AMD stated quite boldly, that they would move to within 6 months of Intel's process changes, but they are still a year behind. No progress there. Unless they can manage to switch around their roadmap the way Intel seems to be able to do, they will fall further behind.
    Reply
  • LordanSS - Wednesday, February 11, 2009 - link

    I think we should wait and see how things will turn out. Now that AMD has spun off their fabs to a separate company, it's no longer their (AMD) job to invest on new manufacturing processes.

    Hopefully, now that the Foundry company has more "freedom", and injection of capital from sources outside of AMD, it'll be able to increase the pace of the shrinking processes.

    Besides all that, doesn't AMD graphics division make use of TSMC's fabs to make their chips?
    Reply
  • PrinceGaz - Wednesday, February 11, 2009 - link

    TSMC's fabs will always be a generation or so behind the like of Intel's own, just as AMD (with IBM's assistance) were ahead of them in the past.

    I can't see AMDs fab company getting much outside investment in the current economic climate -- new state-of-the-art fab facilities are too expensive and there is no guarantee of profitable contracts to keep them busy. The Foundry Company is never going to catch up with Intel unless a miracle happens, and TSMC etc will likely be direct competitors.

    Intel are speeding up their fab and process development because they have money in the bank and continued profits to fuel it. AMD are in dire-straits financially and making a loss. Even with the risks hedge-fund managers take, they'd be mad to put money into AMD just now.
    Reply
  • Triple Omega - Sunday, February 15, 2009 - link

    I wouldn't count AMD out just yet if I were you. One false move from Intel and an unexpected innovation from AMD and they're back on their feet. If in Q4 2007 you said Ati would level the playing field with Nvidia the following year most would call you crazy, yet it still happened. So I still have hopes for AMD. Reply
  • ucsdmike - Wednesday, February 11, 2009 - link

    AMD's staff will be hitting the bar tomorrow.

    This is amazing news from Intel. It is an exciting move.

    Looking forward to cooler and longer running laptops in the near future.
    Reply
  • icecold101 - Monday, August 24, 2009 - link

    AMD still has one thing that intel dosent have... low prices. these new cores will cost more than $1000! In the slumping economy it isn't the best time to ask for top dollar. Reply
  • Ryun - Thursday, February 12, 2009 - link

    More reason to work extra hard maybe?

    In all seriousness, I have a feeling AMD might pull a rabbit out of it's hat like ATi did with the 4 series with their new architecture. Actually, technically they did with Phenom II but really it was just too late in the game to make the significant dent that ATi's 4 series did (though I'd say the triple cores this round are a big win).

    At any rate, 2011 (Bulldozer, or whatever they're calling it now) better be huge. The 65nm X2s were somewhat competitive with Conroe, but after that it just started going downhill. If Bulldozer doesn't do it I don't think AMD is going to be able to get back up. =(
    Reply

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