Intel airs multicore plans and new brand name

Intel previewed the capabilities of its initial dual-core processors, and signaled the end of the line for the Pentium 4 brand.

Intel's vaunted Pentium 4 brand name, which has denoted its flagship desktop processor since 2000, will be retired with the launch of the company's first dual-core desktop processor, Intel said Tuesday at the Spring Intel Developer Forum. The company also outlined some features of the first batch of its dual-core processors during a briefing for press and analysts.

The company will introduce the Pentium D in the second half of this year. This chip was formerly code-named Smithfield, and will feature two Pentium 4 cores integrated onto a single processor, said Stephen Smith, vice president and general manager of Intel's Digital Enterprise group.

Since the middle of 2004, Intel has embarked on a company-wide strategy to introduce chips with two or more processing cores integrated onto a single piece of silicon. This shift away from relying on steady increases in the clock speed of its single-core processors will allow Intel to improve processor performance without having to overcome the myriad thermal problems associated with high-frequency single-core processors.

It also allows PCs or servers with the chips to execute instructions in parallel, or two groups of instructions at the same time, Smith said. This is extremely important for the next generation of PCs for the digital home and digital office, which will be simultaneously running multiple applications such as virus scanning, video editing, multimedia streams and much more, he said.

The Pentium D will be introduced in the second quarter of 2005, along with new Intel chipset technology, Smith said. Intel's hyperthreading technology, which allows desktop and server processors to process multiple threads, will not come with the initial batch of Pentium D processors, he said.

The Pentium D processor will come with two separate execution cores and two separate banks of Level 2 cache with 1M byte in each bank, Smith said. Both execution cores will share a single 800MHz front-side bus to connect the processor to the memory.

As previously disclosed, Intel will also introduce the new dual-core Pentium Extreme Edition 840 processor in the second quarter. That chip, targeted at gamers willing to spend a great deal of money for Intel's most expensive desktop chip, will run at 3.2GHz and come with 1M byte of Level 2 cache dedicated to each core.

Intel will return to a single-core processor for its first 65-nanometer desktop processor, code-named Cedar Mill. Cedar Mill will be the second Intel processor built on its forthcoming 65 nanometer processing technology, which takes advantage of smaller transistors to advance performance and decrease power consumption. Yonah, a previously disclosed dual-core mobile processor, will be the first 65 nm chip released in the fourth quarter of 2005.

Presler will accompany Cedar Mill in the first half of 2006. It is also a 65 nm processor but is made up of two separate Cedar Mill chips placed into a single package, rather than the closer integration of execution units on a single chip seen in a processor like the Pentium D.

On the server side, Dempsey is the code name for Intel's first dual-core Xeon processor, which will begin shipping in the first quarter of 2006. Dempsey will be manufactured using Intel's 65 nm processing technology, Smith said.

Paxville is the code name for Intel's first dual-core Xeon MP processor, designed for servers with four or more processors. Change comes more slowly to the upper end of the server market, and Intel will use its existing 90 nm processing technology to build Paxville. It is expected to launch in the first quarter of 2006. Intel's first 65 nm Xeon MP processor, Whitefield, is on target for 2007, and will be able to use the same chipset technology as Tukwilla, an Itanium 2 processor slated for the same time frame.

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