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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Although we get real annoyed with paper launches and PR vaporware, the Centrino lineup never struck us as a set of hardware that didn't show up when promised (at least in the OEM sector). In fact, Sonoma based notebooks with Dothan 2.1GHz processors are already shipping from at least two of the Tier 1 notebook manufacturers although the launch was just last week. This gets us particularly excited since dual core, 65nm Yonah processors are scheduled to launch with the third generation Centrino platform, Napa. And given how reliable Centrino's track record has been, it could be very possible for us to review a 65nm, dual core notebook 365 days from now.
|Intel Dual Core Performance Desktop Lineup LGA775|
|Pentium M 780||2.26GHz||2MB||533MHz||Q3'05|
|Pentium M 770||2.13GHz||2MB||533MHz||Now|
|Pentium M X50||???||2MB (Shared)||???||Q1'06|
|Pentium M X40||???||2MB (Shared)||???||Q1'06|
|Pentium M X30||???||2MB (Shared)||???||Q1'06|
|Pentium M X20||???||2MB (Shared)||???||Q1'06|
|Pentium M X48||???||2MB (Shared)||???||Q1'06|
|Pentium M X38||???||2MB (Shared)||???||Q1'06|
To quote Bender from Futurama, "... the X makes it sound cool." When Yonah hits the retail market it seems fairly likely that Intel will drop the X in favor of a number - although it seems like all the good ones thus far are used up. Well, X is the Roman numeral for 10...
One of the first things we knew about Yonah when we first saw the preliminary work in Taipei for Computex 2004 was that it uses a shared L2 cache between the two cores. While the Smithfield dual core processors separate their cache per core, Yonah is unique as arbitrating the cache for both processors. We also know a bit about the further enhancements on EIST utilized in the processor, including a technology that dynamically throttles power from unused portions of the cache. Feel free to check out or IDF 2004 coverage for that announcement. Another interesting tidbit on the roadmap reveals that the Napa platform will utilize both the 945 and the 955 chipsets in production models. Why a notebook would need ECC support is beyond me, but perhaps there are some features in 955X that haven't been fully leaked yet.
Unfortunately thermals are a huge piece of the pie, and we don't have any confirmed behind the scenes details on that yet. It looks like you'll just have to wait until launch dates for Prescott 2M, Dempsey and Yonah for that scoop.
Though Intel's roadmap reveals a gung-ho attitude for EM64T, the mobility platform looks completely devoid of any such notion. Even the much famed Yonah doesn't explicitly mention any 64-bit support, which may give AMD the upper hand in that match up. AMD's Turion platform will have 64-bit support - will their competition?
Unannounced Secret Stuff
The very forward looking stuff on Intel's roadmap, Q1'06, shows more promise than we had also originally anticipated. First off - get used to the names Presler and Cedar Mill. We had mentioned Cedar Mill before as a single core Pentium 4 evolution. While probably not a direct NetBurst revision, don't be surprised if some of those wonderful projects scrapped with Tejas show up in Cedar Mill instead. Cedar Mill utilizes 2MB of L2 cache, Socket 775 architecture and a 65nm process. On the enterprise portion of the roadmaps Intel is very careful to separate Cedar Mill from the rest of the Prescott 2M SKUs so perhaps there is more to meets the eye for this little processor.
Presler is a whole different animal. On the roadmaps Intel marks Presler as the eventual dual core replacement for Smithfield albeit with an extra megabyte of cache per core. Since this is the first we have heard of the processor in official circles, details were pretty light.
We talked real casually in the past about Dempsey - the dual core Xeon. From the roadmaps Dempsey doesn't look similar to any Pentium 4 or Xeon processor we know about. For starters, expect 1066FSB, dual core, and HyperThreading. If four logical processors per socket didn't seem to catch your attention the addition of Fully Buffered DIMM (FB-DIMM) and iAMT will also show up on the chip platform. Intel also refers quite often to its "Diamond Peak" technology - which they loosely describe as:
Platform level LAN acceleration based on improvements in processor, MCH and ESB-2
Like the desktop platforms, the next generation server core logic will also feature Vanderpool Technology. This leads to a real lot of promise for those who rely on User Mode Linux or VMWare for their enterprise solutions. Rather than placing separate operating systems in different machines, VT opens the door to putting different operating systems on the same processor. The roadmap stresses this sort of configuration makes sense for high availability; if one OS crashes, its OK because we have 2 running.
"Blackford," the E7520 replacement for Xeon, will utilize ESB-2 and will become Dempsey's chariot in the server market. A cheaper, stripped down version of Blackford dubbed Bensley will perform the task of Dempsey's value platform, Greencreek is the workstation variant.
Generally we do not get to write this much about the Intel world, so today's opportunity to look at everything Intel has to offer is quite refreshing. While a lot of people have looked at Intel's recent reorganization as a sign of weakness, we feel the company is just trimming itself back to the main arteries it does best. We are at least optimistic that 2005 will be a better year for consumers than the last one - now we just need to see if AMD has enough up their sleeves to make things interesting.