Westmere’s New Instructions

Much like Penryn and its new SSE4.1 instructions, Westmere comes with 7 new instructions added to those already in Core i7. These instructions are specifically focused on accelerating encryption/decryption algorithms. There’s a single carryless multiply instruction (PCLMULQDQ...I love typing that) and 6 instructions of AES.

Intel gives the example of hardware accelerated full disk encryption as a need for these instructions. With the new instructions being driven into the mainstream first, we’ll probably see quicker than usual software adoption.

Final Words

What is there to say other than: it’s a healthy roadmap. The only casualty I’ve seen is Havendale but I’d gladly trade Havendale for a 32nm version. But let’s get down to what this means for what you should buy and when.

At the very high end, Core i7 users have little reason to worry. While Intel is expected to bump i7 up to 3.33GHz in the near future, nothing below i7 looks threatening in 2009. Moving into 2010, the 6-core 32nm i7 successor should be extremely powerful. Intel’s strategy with LGA-1366 makes a lot of sense: if you want more cores, this is the platform you’re going to have to be on.

Now although I said that nothing will threaten Core i7 this year, you may be able to get i7-like performance out of Lynnfield in the second half. A quad-core Lynnfield running near 3GHz, should offer much of the performance of an i7 with a lower platform cost. Remember back to our original i7 review; we didn’t find a big performance benefit from three channels of DDR3 versus two.

Lynnfield is on track for a 2H 2009 introduction and if you’re unable to make the jump to i7 now, you’ll probably be able to get i7-like performance out of Lynnfield in about 6 months. Intel did mention that the most overclockable processors would go into the LGA-1366 socket. Combine better overclockability with the promise of 6 cores in the future and it seems like LGA-1366 is shaping up to be a platform that’s going to stick around despite cheaper alternatives.

The 32nm Clarkdale/Arrandale parts arriving by the end of this year really means one very important thing: the time to buy a new notebook will be either in Q4 2009 or Q1 2010. A 2-core, 4-thread 32nm Westmere derivative is not only going to put current Penryn cores to shame, it’s going to be extremely power efficient. In its briefing yesterday, Intel mentioned that while Clarkdale/Arrandale clock speeds and TDPs would be similar to what we have today, you’ll be getting much more performance. Seeing what we’ve seen thus far with Nehalem, I’d say a 2-core, 32nm version in a notebook is going to be reason enough for you to want to upgrade.

If I had to build a new desktop today I’d go Core i7 and think about upgrading to a 6-core version sometime next year. If I couldn’t or didn’t need to build today, then the thing to wait for is Lynnfield. Four cores that should deliver i7-like performance just can’t be beat, and platform costs will be much cheaper by then (expect ~$100 motherboards and near price parity between DDR3 and DDR2).

On the mainstream quad-core side, it may not make sense to try to upgrade to 32nm quad-core until Sandy Bridge at the end of 2010. If you buy Lynnfield this year, chances are that you won’t feel a need to upgrade until late 2010/2011.

On the notebook side, if I needed one today I’d buy whatever I could keeping in mind that within a year I’m going to want to upgrade. I mentioned this in much of my recent Mac coverage; if you bought a new MacBook, it looks great, but the one you’re going to really want will be here in about a year.

We owe Intel a huge thanks for being so forthcoming with its roadmaps. It’s going to be a good couple of years for performance.

The Server Roadmap & Chipsets


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  • Oyvind - Wednesday, April 15, 2009 - link

    7 - 10 post are about the fact that todays sw don't use more than 2 cores in a efficent way. Well 2 - 3 years ago, there was close to none. Did Valve, Epic and others build frameworks for using multi cpu's before the hardware base was in place. The answer is no. Do most big software house today put a big effort in scaling over more cores? The answer is yes. Should Intel/Amd wait until the sw houses catch up? I don't understand it, but the spoken majority seems to answer this with a yes?
    My question: When the big sw house is done with the mulri cpu frameworks, do you son't belive they then will scale over n numbers of cpu's. Userinput, rendering/gpu stuff, AI x n the deept of today etc. All real lifte arhitechure is paralell, sw is not yet, but hopefully that will change.

    If lifte is good, and you have insane to much money, you stop developing, you dont need to priortize and you slowly fall back in your pillow. Yes AMD fight uphill, but if they manage to survive, nature has proven that fhigting uneven odds, will give you and middel to long term edge (ok if you survive). Tons of money dont save anything. Not sure they suvive, but if they don't a new company with clever enginers will rise somwhere in the future. Yes we need competition and there always will be.
  • mattigreenbay - Friday, March 06, 2009 - link

    This is the end of AMD. Unless this turns out like P4 (not likely), AMD will have to release their process first or soon after [or better yet, a 16nm ultra-fast processor, and while I'm still dreaming, make it free] and have it perform better (also not likely). Poor AMD. I was going to buy a Phenom II, but Intel seems the way to go, future-wise. AMD will be liquidated, as well as VIA and Intel will go back to selling way overpriced processors that perform less than a i386 [Windows 7 certified]. Reply
  • mattigreenbay - Friday, March 06, 2009 - link

    But it'll come with a free super fast Intel GPU. (bye bye Nvidia too) :(

  • arbiter378 - Sunday, November 22, 2009 - link

    Intel doesn't make fast gpu's. Even when they tried with that agp gpu ati and nvidia killed it. They won't let a new playing into a graphics market with out a fight. Lastly intel has been trying to beat amd for 40 something years, and there still not even close to beating them. Now that amd has acquired amd they have superior graphics patents. Reply
  • LeadSled - Friday, February 20, 2009 - link

    What is really amazing, is the shrink proccess timetable. It looks like they will meet the timetable for our first Quantum DOT procersors. It is theorized to occure at the 1.5nm proccess and by the year 2020. Reply
  • KeepSix - Saturday, February 14, 2009 - link

    I guess I can't blame them for changing sockets all the time, but I'm not sure if I'll be switching any time soon. My Q6600 hasn't gone past 50% usage yet, even when extreme multi-tasking (editing HD video, etc.)

    I'd love to build an i7 right now, but I just can't justify it.
  • Hrel - Thursday, February 12, 2009 - link

    On the mainstream quad-core side, it may not make sense to try to upgrade to 32nm quad-core until Sandy Bridge at the end of 2010. If you buy Lynnfield this year, chances are that you won’t feel a need to upgrade until late 2010/2011.

    So if you buy a quad core 8 thread 3.0 Ghz processor you will "NEED" to upgrade in one year?! What?! It doesn't make sense to upgrade just for the sake of having the latest. Upgrade when your computer can't run the programs you need it to anymore; or when you have the extra money and you'll see at least a 30 percent minimum increase in performance. You should be good for at least 2 years with Lynnfield and probably 4 or 5 years.
  • QChronoD - Thursday, February 12, 2009 - link

    He's saying that the people who have no qualms about throwing down a grand on just the processor are going to want to upgrade to the 32nm next year.

    However for the rest of us that don't shit gold, picking up a Lynnfield later this year will tide us over until 2011 fairly happily.
  • AnnonymousCoward - Thursday, February 12, 2009 - link

    > However for the rest of us that don't shit gold, picking up a Lynnfield later this year will tide us over until 2011 fairly happily.

    My C2D@3GHz will hold me over to 2011...
  • MadBoris - Thursday, February 12, 2009 - link

    I watch roadmaps from time to time and I know where AMD has potential.

    Simplify the damn roadmap, platforms, chipsets, sockets!

    Seriously, I need a spread sheet and calculator to keep it all straight.

    Glad Anand gave kind of a summary for were and when it makes sense to upgrade but I just don't have the patience to filter through it all to the end I get a working knowledge of it.

    One thing AMD has been good at in the past if they continue, is to keep upgrades simple. I don't want a new motherboard and new socket on near every CPU upgrade. I'm not sure if mobo makers love it or hate it, obviously they get new sales but it's kind of nuts.
    This alone, knowing I have some future proofing on the mobo, makes CPU upgrades appealing and easy and something I would take advantage of.

    As far as the GPU/CPU it's nothing I will need for years to come. We will have to wait until it permeates the market before it gets used by devs, just like multicore. It will at least take consoles implementing it before game devs start utilizing it, and even then it's liable to take a lot of steps back in performance (it's only hype now)...

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