Jackson Technology: Not this time around

When we brought you our IDF coverage we had some very strong reasons to believe that the Intel Xeon processor would be the first to feature what is internally known as Jackson Technology.  As we explained before, Jackson technology is supposed to bring Simultaneous Multithreaded (SMT) functionality to a processor's core.  To give a brief overview, the limitation of a single processor is that on the hardware level it can only execute a single thread at one time.  The beauty of SMT is that it allows the processor to execute more than a single thread at once.  The theoretical number of instructions a processor can execute in a given clock cycle (IPC) compared to the processor's actual IPC is during real world usage is generally a very high ratio, simply because the processor is not always kept "busy" as in a good portion of its execution power is wasted.

By being able to execute, on a hardware level, multiple threads on a single processor concurrently, the processor's efficiency is increased dramatically.  This being the tangible benefit of SMT or Jackson technology. 

Jackson technology would make perfect sense to debut with a Dual Processor Xeon workstation since the type of applications a user investing in such a workstation would be running would be perfectly geared towards a SMT core.  Unfortunately, as we discovered a few months ago but were unable to share, the Intel Xeon processor being launched today does not have Jackson technology enabled. 

However it is still quite clear from the information we received at IDF as well as some confirmation from sources close to Intel that Jackson technology is indeed on the roadmap.  The technology would be a huge step forward for Intel and could potentially offer some very attractive performance figures.  Also remember that Intel has a habit of producing a single core and adapting it for use in all of the major market segments, meaning that there is a very good possibility that Jackson technology, upon its release, could find its way into the desktop Pentium 4 as well as the workstation and server Xeon parts.

Another possibility is that the current Willamette core does have Jackson technology implemented but not necessarily enabled on the core.  There are a number of things Intel could be waiting for before announcing/enabling Jackson support, in particular, software support. 

We are still eagerly anticipating the debut of Jackson technology, unfortunately we’re going to have to wait a bit longer for it.  Remember that there is a die-shrink coming up by the end of this year, and a Xeon MP (4+ processors) part with an on-die L3 cache coming out next year; both of those launches would be perfect for Jackson technology.  As usual, we will keep you updated on any findings in this area. 

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