The Consequence of Waking Up a Sleeping Giant: Intel Roadmaps Insideby Kristopher Kubicki on January 25, 2005 7:44 PM EST
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Anand and I got particularly antsy this month to get an Intel roadmap up - this month's changes look nothing short of spectacular. When we look at some of our other Intel roadmaps in retrospect, there are very few new developments outside of the Smithfield and Yonah announcements. This month looks completely different however; new processor announcements and details in Q1'06, chipset information and - for the first time in a very long time - most of Intel's processor roadmap has moved up, ahead of schedule.
It takes time to realign a huge corporation such as Intel, and we can guess that the recent roadmaps have been the proverbial "calm before the storm". Intel doesn't normally make a lot of noise about major changes in the public as that can lead to reduced sales of current products. However, with AMD making some inroads against Intel and the lackluster retail reception of current 915/925 chipsets, that may not be as much of concern right now. Another possibility is that Intel was working feverishly on some new products and they are now confident enough of their release dates to add them to their roadmaps.
The recent corporate shuffles in Intel must have made the company more aware of their consumer position or more lean to deal with it. Either way Intel is still the 800 pound gorilla; we don't need to look much past their last quarters earnings in relation to AMD's to verify that. If you thought Intel was aggressive before their regrouping last year this year ought to be impressive - to say the least.
First let's take a look at the chipset side of things. It was no surprise that the first generation Socket 775, DDR2, PCIe chipsets Alderwood and Grantsdale faced delays, production problems and poor saturation. Unfortunately such is the life of a first generation chipset. The second generation usually does better, and it looks like Lakeport and Glenwood should be no exception. Actually we no longer need to refer to the next generation DDR2 chipsets by their code names as Intel has cheerfully dubbed the two core logics as 945P and 955X respectively. Even though the launch is yet another month away i945 and i955 news will flood headlines in the upcoming weeks without question.
Before we go under NDA for the launch, here are a few tidbits about 945 that we already know:
- First platforms for dual core support (915, 925 won't support dual core)
- Both platforms support 1066MHz FSB
- 945G will have Intel GMA 950 graphics
- Both platforms support 667MHz DDR2
- 955X will support 8GB of ECC DDR2
For much further details you will probably have to wait for the launch next month.
We also have the upcoming launch of the 915PL and 915GL chipsets, but there's nothing exciting there. 915PL is the new budget 915P, and it drops HD Audio and DDR2 support, as well as limiting the chipset to 1 DIMM per channel with a maximum of 2GB of RAM. The 915GL is similar and falls roughly between the 915GV and 910GL in terms of features. DDR2 support is dropped, but both 533 and 800 FSB support remains. Performance enthusiasts will want to stay away from any of the GL/GV platforms, as usual.
The latest iteration of the roadmap also paid a peculiar amount of attention on Vanderpool Technology or VT. Intel simply refers to this first generation of VT as "the first step in Intel's long term Virtualization roadmap." VT is supposed to take virtual machine applications and allow them to run simultaneously on the same hardware with the same processor - if we are to believe Intel's IDF keynote. Rather than setup two different machines for Linux and Windows, VT aims to unify them both in the same computer. However, the catch seems to be that the processor, chipset, BIOS and software all have to be aware of this process and it isn't a transparent, free upgrade.
Vanderpool won't show up right away however. Intel claims the technology will start showing up in Itanium configurations by the second half of this year, with the mass production server launch date by Q1'06. This almost implies that we will not see any steps forward with this technology until the next processor launch for Xeon, but that's another story in itself. Desktop processors, starting with the Prescott 2M, will get the feature sometime in 2H'05.