Intel's 65nm Gameplan: Presler and Cedar Mill Updatesby Kristopher Kubicki on September 9, 2005 6:42 AM EST
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65nm and Dual Core for Everyone
Intel's WW36 and WW31 roadmaps came and went with relatively little fanfare. Even though we just had an extensive Fall IDF, there were several things mentioned in the roadmaps that were not at the show; like Intel's 975X chipset. We have some in depth articles concerning Broadwater, 975X and other finer points of the roadmap, but in the meantime it's important that we list the upcoming processor codenames and cores.
Intel's Extreme Edition series is nothing more than a series of low volume chips designed to showcase Intel's best of breed, but then again many argue the same for AMD's FX line. We don't expect any of the chips listed below to work their way into your family PC anytime soon, but they do give us a frame of reference for the desktop processor direction.
Intel Extreme Edition
The Intel 955 Extreme Edition will be the first 65nm dual core Presler introduced. Presler, as you may recall, differs slightly from Smithfield in the fact that each individual Cedar Mill core comes from a separate die on the processor packaging. This is partially due to the fact that the smaller 65nm process changes the optimal configuration of the chip layout, but mostly due to the increased yield -- it's easier to throw out one core at a time than to scrap both cores even if only one fails QA. The new Presler Extreme Edition will feature two banks of 2MB L2 cache, and will feature Intel's VT virtualization technology. As with the 840EE, HyperThreading will also come enabled on the 955EE.
The desktop dual core roadmap is significantly more relevant and interesting. Intel and AMD both predict the mainstream desktop to fully embrace dual core, so the majority of both companies' roadmaps are targeted at that sector.
Intel Dual Core Desktop
We've already talked a little bit about Presler in previous roadmaps and with the 955EE. All of the 65nm Presler processors listed are scheduled for a Q1'06 launch and are virtually identical to the existing Intel Pentium D 8xx series with a few new features:
- 65nm die process with two separate dies, but a single packaging still
- 2x2MB L2 cache
- Virtualization Technology (VT)
As with Smithfield, HT will not be enabled on non-Extreme parts. Barring a miracle, the new Presler chips would need to have some new feature not listed on the roadmap to really make them outshine the existing Smithfield and Athlon 64 X2 chips. The smaller process might allow them to run slightly cooler, and we might even see 4.0GHz chips at some point, but that's about the only changes.
It's clear the NetBurst architecture is nearing the end of the road, but we find it odd that the Conroe unveiling is less than a year away from Intel's 65nm NetBurst launch! The current roadmap claims an H2'06 launch for Conroe. Conroe features a completely new architecture for Intel, with new features like a 4-issue core and a shared L2 cache between cores. Although the roadmaps have virtually no information on clock speeds, we do know that there will be two versions of the chip, one with a 4MB shared L2 cache and another with a 2MB shared L2 cache. The chips will also feature EIST, VT and EM64T.
Intel still thinks there is life in Prescott, and even after the die shrink to 65nm (Cedar Mill), the Intel roadmap claims new single core Prescott-2M versions will be made available with VT. Perhaps the only interesting detail below is the fact that Intel canceled the VT versions of Cedar Mill. Why Intel will even bother to pursue VT on the 90nm core and not the 65nm core is a total mystery. Some of the product names have also changed a bit since the previous roadmap.
Intel Desktop Performance Roadmap
|Processor||Core Name||Clock Speed||Socket||Launch Date|
|Pentium 672||Prescott 2M + VT||3.8 2MB||LGA 775||Q4'05|
|Pentium 671||Cedar Mill||3.8 2MB||LGA 775||2H'06|
|Pentium 662||Prescott 2M + VT||3.6 2MB||LGA 775||Q1'06|
|Pentium 661||Cedar Mill||3.6 2MB||LGA 775||Q1'06|
|Pentium 651||Cedar Mill||3.4 2MB||LGA 775||Q1'06|
|Pentium 641||Cedar Mill||3.2 2MB||LGA 775||Q1'06|
|Pentium 631||Cedar Mill||3.0 2MB||LGA 775||Q2'06|
|Pentium 670||Prescott 2M||3.8 2MB||LGA 775||Now|
Virtually everything else on the CPU roadmap remains unchanged since our last revision. Intel has been good to ship processors and chipsets on its set launch dates over the last year, but the 65nm chip launch looks to be one of Intel's shortest product cycles yet with Conroe just around the corner in the same year. In all likelihood, Intel is probably just testing their 65nm yields with the initial Cedar Mill and Presler chips before moving onto bigger and better projects like Conroe. Intel's launch of Broadwater (i965X) also comes about the same time as the new CPU launch; and nothing sells chipsets quite like new CPUs. We have more details coming up on Intel's new 965X, 975X, Viiv and Yonah very soon, so stay tuned!