Intel CPU Roadmap UpdateWe have already covered some of the major announcements from Intel in our look at Intel's Dual-Core Strategy, but plenty of processors will still be sold between now and when the first dual-core chips ship. We are going to focus primarily on the changes in this roadmap update, but we will list basic information on most currently shipping Intel processors for comparison. There are not that many updates from month to month in Intel's roadmaps, so to help you find the changes from our last Intel Desktop Roadmap we have highlighted them with red text. We will cover all three sectors - desktop, mobile, and server/enterprise - starting with what remains the largest in terms of volume, the desktop sector.
|Intel Desktop Lineup LGA775|
|x40 Dual Core||3.20 GHz||2x1MB||800MHz||Q3'05||EM64T, EIST, EDB|
|x30 Dual Core||3.00 GHz||2x1MB||800MHz||Q3'05||EM64T, EIST, EDB|
|x20 Dual Core||2.80 GHz||2x1MB||800MHz||Q3'05||EM64T, EIST, EDB|
|Pentium 4 XE 3.73GHz||3.73GHz||2MB||1066MHz||Q1'05||EM64T, EIST, EDB|
|Pentium 4 XE 3.46GHz||3.46GHz||512K+2MB L3||1066MHz||Nov'04|
|Pentium 4 670||3.80GHz||2MB||800MHz||Q2'05||EM64T, EIST, EDB|
|Pentium 4 660||3.60GHz||2MB||800MHz||Q1'05||EM64T, EIST, EDB|
|Pentium 4 650||3.40GHz||2MB||800MHz||Q1'05||EM64T, EIST, EDB|
|Pentium 4 640||3.20GHz||2MB||800MHz||Q1'05||EM64T, EIST, EDB|
|Pentium 4 630||3.00 GHz||2MB||800MHz||Q1'05||EM64T, EIST, EDB|
|Pentium 4 580J||4.00GHz||1MB||800MHz||Cancelled|
|Pentium 4 570J||3.80GHz||1MB||800MHz||Q4'04||EDB|
|Pentium 4 560J||3.60GHz||1MB||800MHz||Already available||EDB|
|Pentium 4 550J||3.40GHz||1MB||800MHz||Already available||EDB|
|Pentium 4 540J||3.20GHz||1MB||800MHz||Already available||EDB|
|Pentium 4 530J||3.00GHz||1MB||800MHz||Already available||EDB|
|Pentium 4 520J||2.80GHz||1MB||800MHz||Already available||EDB|
|Celeron D 350||3.20GHz||256KB||533MHz||Q2'05||EDB|
|Celeron D 345||3.06GHz||256KB||533MHz||Nov'04||EDB|
|Celeron D 340||2.93GHz||256KB||533MHz||Already Available||EDB|
|Celeron D 335||2.80GHz||256KB||533MHz||Already Available||EDB|
|Celeron D 330||2.66GHz||256KB||533MHz||Already Available||EDB|
|Celeron D 325||2.53GHz||256KB||533MHz||Already Available||EDB|
The biggest news is of course the announcement of the x20, x30 and x40 dual-core processors. At present, it is not clear if these are the final names for these parts or simply placeholders. The "x" may be replaced by whatever number eventually gets assigned to the dual-core parts. That's one interpretation of it, anyway, as Intel's roadmap refers to "6xx series" and "xxx" series parts - note the use of the lowercase "x" here. With the addition of the 600 series in the last roadmap, it stands to reason that the dual-core NetBurst chips will eventually be given a numerical designation. "X" is already one of the most overused letters in the alphabet as far as marketing goes, so we can hope that Intel will refrain from adding another component to the already crowded "Generation X" hardware genre. The Pentium 4 eXtreme Edition (TM) has already paved the way, however, so don't get your hopes up. There is no HyperThreading support scheduled for the dual core Processors.
Besides the introduction of the dual core parts, most of the roadmap remains unchanged. A few parts have been pushed back one quarter on their launch date, and in the case of the 4.0 GHz 580J, it has been cancelled. Some will point to the product cancellations - there are a couple more elsewhere in this roadmap - as a sign of Intel's pending doom. We prefer a slightly less alarmist view and believe that Intel is simply being cautious. Overclocking headroom on Intel parts has always been pretty good relative to their competitors, and rather than pushing parts through validation at close to their maximum speed, it is probable that Intel is making sure the parts run reliably. Other than the ill-fated Pentium III 1.13 GHz Coppermine, Intel CPUs have usually been binned at least two levels below their maximum clock rate. Many enthusiasts are already overclocking Prescott cores to 4.0 GHz using only air-cooled HSFs, so such clock speeds are certainly attainable. With more recent steppings of the Prescott core (akin to minor software revisions), we would expect slightly more headroom that 4.0 GHz. Time will tell us whether Intel is really having problems or is simply being conservative - they could have always gone with a water cooled CPU setup like the Apple G5 systems if they felt the increased speed was truly worthwhile.
If you look at the 600 series of processors, Intel has now announced plans to include a 3.0 GHz part, the 630. As these processors will all include 2 MB of L2 cache compared to the 512K L2/2M L3 cache of the earlier Gallatin-based P4EE (or the 1M L2/2M L3 of the socket 775 P4XE), performance should at worst match the older 3.2EE and 3.4EE parts on a clock-for-clock basis. Performance of the Irwindale chips (also referred to as Prescott 2M and Nocona 2M) should also at least match the current Prescott chips, and in most instances it will surpass them. NetBurst remains an extremely bandwidth hungry design, and you can almost see the gears turning in the brains at Intel: The P4EE was able to keep Intel competitive with AMD in the race for the performance crown, and if they combine the 2M cache of the P4EE with the higher clockspeeds and other architectural tweaks of the Prescott design, they ought to get the best of both worlds! With the 630 and 640 targeting the mainstream market, prices should be under $300 when the parts ship in early 2005. The P4XE will continue to be an ultra-expensive part, and to help it maintain a lead relative to the 600 series parts, it will be getting a 1066 MHz FSB on the future versions. Say what you want about the elegance of the design, but the fact is that a 2 MB L2 cache NetBurst chip will remain competitive with most of AMD's Athlon 64 parts. AMD will still hold the lead in certain applications - i.e. gaming - but Intel is not out of the picture yet.
The only remaining change on the desktop platform is that the 600 series of processors as well as the P4XE 3.73 will now have their EM64T support activated. (The P4XE 3.43 uses the older Gallatin design, which is a Northwood core with L3 cache, so there is no 64-bit support to activate.) As Intel's position has always been that they will "have 64-bit enabled processors available when software support is ready," this makes sense. Windows XP-64 should finally ship within the next couple quarters, and 64-bit versions of Linux have been available for a while now. We have yet to see any significant benefit for 64-bit applications, but that should come as 32-bit applications are recompiled and tuned for the additional registers. One topic that comes up repeatedly in the latest Intel roadmap is Intel's "leadership role" in getting 64-bit computing to the desktop. Revisionist history at it's finest! The important thing is that, regardless of who did the work, both x86-64 solutions will be compatible. The same is true of Intel's "Execute Disable Bit" (EDB); in practice, it functions the same as AMD's XD and they are compatible.