Intel drops info on Nehalem, Larabee plans

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Intel drops info on Nehalem, Larabee plans

New CPU platform will bear similarity to Core 2 Duo, but with 2 to 8 cores on board.

Intel today gave media a sneak peek at some of its upcoming processor plans in advance of the IDF forum in Shanghai next month. Quite what this gives them to announce at IDF is anyone's guess, but what it's announced today is certainly a good appetiser to start off with.

First of all, their next CPU architecture, codenamed Nehalem. While Nehalem bears some similarity with the existing Core 2 Duo product line, it's designed much more in a Lego-style fashion, being both scalable and modular, depending on what market segment Intel is chasing with a given processor. As such, it'll support from 2-8 cores, and these can be added -- there's that Lego again -- to a processor in the production phase. You want a high performance chip? Drop eight cores in. Something for the budget market? Two cores only, please. All of these cores will support simultaneous multi-threading, giving you between 4 to 16 threads at the same time. Intel sees Nehalem as ultimately being suitable for everything from servers to cheap notebooks.

Next up, Intel’s stab at the graphics market with Larabee, a multi-core graphics processor set to emerge sometime in 2009. Larabee will support a new set of vector processing instructions to speed up the performance of graphics applications, and should be compatible with existing industry APIs such as DirectX and OpenGL.

Finally, in the hard end of town, Intel disclosed details about its next generation server platforms, Dunnington and Tukwila. Is it just us, or are Intel’s product names becoming ever more indecipherable?

Anyway, Dunnington will be available in the second half of the year, feature six cores on a 45nm process, although the chip will support Intel’s FlexMigration technology, which lets servers utilise both 45nm and 65nm process cores. If Itanium’s your thing, Intel also announced details of Tukwila (we did warn you about strange names, right?), the next-gen Itanium processor, which will be the world’s first two billion processor transistor.

Finally, in the “not quite saying anything, but dropping further product names” bucket, Intel announced that the upcoming Intel Advanced Vector Extensions (AVX) instruction set will be implemented on the “Sandy Bridge” processor, due sometime in 2010.

The full technical details that Intel has announced can be downloaded as a PDF from Intel’s Web Site.

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