Been hearing conflicting dual core information lately? Here's a compilation of everything we have and know about Intel's dual core plans for the next two years.

Dual Core for Desktops in 2005

Intel has yet to determine what brand they will market their first desktop chips under, although we'd expect them to continue to use the Pentium 4 brand but with some sort of appendage like Extreme Edition or Lots of Cores Version. Intel has, however, already determined what the specifications and the model numbers of their dual core chips will be.

Currently set for release in Q3 2005, Intel has three dual core chips on their desktop roadmap: the x20, x30 and x40. The only difference between these three chips is clock speed, with the x20 running at 2.8GHz, the x30 running at 3GHz and the x40 running at 3.2GHz. All of the chips are LGA-775 compatible and run off of an 800MHz FSB. Hyper-Threading is not enabled with Intel's dual core chips.

As far as architecture goes, the x-series of dual core CPUs from Intel are built on the little talked-about Smithfield core. While many have speculated that Smithfield may be Banias or Dothan based, it's now clear that Smithfield is little more than two 90nm Prescott cores built on the same die. There is a requirement for a very small amount of arbitration logic that will balance bus transactions between the two CPUs, but for the most part Smithfield is basically two Prescotts.

But doesn't Prescott run too hot already? How could Intel possibly build their first dual core chip out of the 90nm beast that is Prescott? The issue with Prescott hitting higher clock speeds ends up being thermal density - too many transistors, generating too much heat, in too small of a space. Intel's automated layout tools do help reduce this burden a bit, but what's important is that the thermal density of Smithfield is no worse than Prescott. If you take two Prescotts and place them side by side, the areas of the die with the greatest thermal density will still be the same, there will simply be twice as many of them. So overall power consumption will obviously be increased by a factor of two and there will be much more heat dissipated, but the thermal density of Smithfield will remain the same as Prescott.

In order to deal with the fact that Smithfield needs to be able to run with conventional cooling, Intel dropped the clock speed of Smithfield down to the 2.8 - 3.2GHz range, from the fastest 3.8GHz Prescott that will be out at the time. The reducing in clock speed will make sure that temperatures and power consumption is more reasonable for Smithfield.

Smithfield will also feature EM64T (Intel's version of AMD's x86-64 extensions), EIST (Enhanced Intel SpeedStep Technology) and Intel's XD bit support. Chipset support for Smithfield will come from Glenwood and Lakeport, both of which support the 1066MHz FSB (as well as 800) and Dual Channel DDR-2 667 and 533. Glenwood (the successor to 925X) will support up to 8GB of memory, making it the perfect candidate for EM64T enabled processors that want to break the 4GB barrier.

Dual Core Mobility


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  • ChronoReverse - Saturday, October 23, 2004 - link


    And Windows reports 10 threads for the UT2K4 demo. I still know that it's not really designed to take full (by full I mean special) advantage of multithreading.
  • Chuckles - Saturday, October 23, 2004 - link

    According to 'top' on Mac and Task Manager on Win XP:
    Escape Velocity: Nova - 7 threads
    Robin Hood: Legends of Sherwood (Demo) - 5 threads
    Airburst Extreme (Demo) - 8 threads
    Homeworld 2 (Mac Demo @ 1st mission, 2nd save) - 8 threads
    Homeworld 2 (PC Demo @ 1st mission, 2nd save) - 8 threads

    All seem to be reporting multiple threads.
  • Sunbird - Saturday, October 23, 2004 - link

    I have a question that just popped into my mind,

    Will the dual core processors from AMD and Intel technically be two 64bit cores?

    If it is, man, you get dual core and 64bit all in one, seems it will be pretty cool (but not those dual core prescotts :P ) when you have both of those steaming away with software written for them.
  • AdamK47 3DS - Saturday, October 23, 2004 - link

    I envision more marketing behind the dual core CPUs than performance numbers to sell these. Most people (as is proven by the responses here) will think their getting double the performance simply because they are "dual cores". Dual cores require multithreading capabilities to truly take advantage of them in a single app. If you're a gamer there aren't very many games out there that are multithreaded. Even most games coming out in the next couple years won't be multithreaded. Multithreading can be cumbersome to programmers. Reply
  • AdamK47 3DS - Saturday, October 23, 2004 - link

  • Reflex - Saturday, October 23, 2004 - link

    Just to make one thing clear: I like dual core, I think it is a good move, I can't wait to get mine...

    However, you will not see 100% improvement on a dual core system, not even close, even with multi-threaded apps. At best you will see 80% in *some* situations, in most circumstances its more like 40-50%. The thing to remember here is that those dual cores are sharing the rest of the system with each other, so a straight 100% improvement is impossible due to the fight for system memory and resources. This is exacerbated on shared bus designs like the P4, but even in the case of the Athlon64 there are some shared resources..
  • xsilver - Saturday, October 23, 2004 - link

    #42 I think you answered your own question
    "Within a year or two, you will be buying (essentially) 6 to 8 GHz CPUs, instead of 3 to 4 GHz CPUs."
    Essentially this 6ghz cpu is no better than the 3ghz cpu on one program -- its all fine and dandy to be able to run 2 programs just as fast with no performance hit but when advertisers say it runs X fast, that X would not have changed; only you can run X and Y at the same time.... Its not double performance, its more like HT overdrived.... you mention MMX, sse etc. they are good features cause they add no cost/ heat into the equation whereas dual cores may double the processor on both counts here...
    The INTEL spin doctors though will spin it so it sounds good until software can use the multithread properly...
  • theprofessor - Saturday, October 23, 2004 - link

    I don't know why everyone seems so against dual core CPUs. I have been waiting years for this (as I was for 64-bit CPUs). Most people will see an increase in performance using a dual core CPU. I don't care if the program is single threaded or not. Most people run more than one program at a time. All modern Operating Systems (including XP) will allocate time on both cores for different processes. So, while you’re playing your single threaded game on one core, you can run your encoding software, anti-virus software, im software, e-mail software, download software, whatever software on the other core, with no hit to performance. If you don’t play games, include whatever single threaded software you like. There will be a decent boost to performance no matter what you are doing.

    Dual core is the best upgrade a processor can get. Why? Because with MMX, SSE, SSE2, 3D Now!, and, especially, 64-bit, there needs to be re-programming and/or re-compiling involved to notice any difference at all. With dual core you will notice a difference in almost all modern computing paradigms the day the chip is released. And as the technology becomes more mature and prevalent, you will notice even more performance as developers re-program/re-compile there software.

    Computer enthusiasts should be looking at this as a doubling of computing performance. Within a year or two, you will be buying (essentially) 6 to 8 GHz CPUs, instead of 3 to 4 GHz CPUs. As far as pure performance increase, I think this could be the greatest technology ever introduced to a processor line. No other technology (listed above – MMX, etc.) has been able to give almost 100% performance increase (theoretically) across the board in all applications.

    If nothing else, think of it this way. With the ramp in CPU frequency drastically slowing over the last two years, going forward it will now be at least double what it would have been. (i.e. If AMD and Intel can currently only handle 200 – 400 MHz frequency increase in a year, with dual core that becomes 400 – 800 MHz.)

    It’s a win almost every way you look at it. So please, try not to be so critical of this great technology.

    Thank you
  • Reflex - Saturday, October 23, 2004 - link

    #37: If that were true then every ported PC game would take years to rewrite and bring to the Mac since they are not designed multi-threaded in the first place(and most Mac games are PC ports).

    Don't confuse the fact that you can multi-task while playing a game with the idea that the game itself is multi-threaded. They are not the one and the same, and you can multi-task while playing a game on Windows as well...
  • thermalpaste - Saturday, October 23, 2004 - link

    Intel could have launched the dual core using the P6 architecture as in the pentium-M processor. If they still love high clock speeds, maybe they can deepen the pipelines a bit for the p6. With prescotts touching 65 degrees plus, the dual cored pentium-4s may need car radiators in order to overclock;). Its obvious that the dual cores only come into play for multi-threaded apps, so perhaps intel can shift back to p6 when majority of apps support multi-threading. Reply

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