Intel's dual-core notebook chip knows how to share

Fresh off introducing its dual-core desktop chips, Intel revealed a few details about its upcoming dual-core mobile processor.

Intel shed a little more light on its forthcoming dual-core mobile chip Thursday in a briefing with reporters, confirming that the Yonah processor's two cores will share a single bank of cache memory.

Yonah is the dual-core version of Intel's Pentium M processor for notebooks and miniature desktops, scheduled for release in the first quarter of next year. Unlike Intel's first dual-core designs for desktop PCs, Yonah is a much more integrated design that shares storage and power management resources within the chip, said Mooly Eden, vice president and general manager of Intel's mobile platforms group.

The just-released dual-core Pentium D processor uses separate 1M-byte cache memory banks dedicated to each core. In the Yonah processor, a single 2M-byte cache memory bank is available to both cores, reducing the chance that data will have to leave the chip to be temporarily stored in a system's main memory bank, Eden said.

Cache memory is used to store frequently accessed bits of data in a repository close to the CPU (central processing unit). Data stored in cache memory can be accessed much faster than data stored in a PC's memory, because the CPU doesn't have to exit the processor to find that data.

In Yonah, each processor core has access to the full 2M bytes of cache. This means that one core can store a piece of data in the cache that might be needed later by the other core, and the other core can access that data without having to leave the chip, Eden said. The larger amount of storage allows Yonah's cores to spend less time navigating through Intel's front-side bus and more time executing instructions, which will dramatically improve performance, he said.

The shared cache design also allows Intel to eliminate some of the disadvantages of its front-side bus design, which many analysts see as a bottleneck in the dual-core era. The front-side bus is the connection between the processor and the memory bank via a chipset. On Intel's chips, this interface is located on the chipset, farther away from the CPU. But on rival Advanced Micro Devices (AMD's) chips, the memory controller is on the same chip as the CPU, where it can access data from the memory much faster than can a front-side bus.

Intel plans eventually to move to a similar design, but in the meantime it has been raising the speed at which its buses move data in order to cope with the increased activity of two processor cores. Yonah's two cores will share a single front-side bus running at 667MHz, an improvement in frequency over the 533MHz bus used by the current generation of Pentium M processors, Eden said.

Yonah will also use sophisticated power management techniques to make sure that each core is only drawing as much power as it needs to process its instructions, Eden said. The processor can monitor the application activity passing through each core and allocate power as needed between the cores, reducing power consumption during idle moments, he said.

As a result, the battery life of notebooks with the Yonah and the rest of the Napa platform should exceed that of the current generation of Intel's Centrino technology, Eden said. Napa is the code name for the combination of Yonah, a new mobile chipset, and a new wireless chip that makes up the Centrino brand.

Intel plans to aggressively introduce dual-core processors over the next year. The company was forced to accelerate its dual-core processors after realizing that it could no longer wring any more performance out of single-core Pentium 4 chips without melting motherboards. Processor analysts and chip enthusiasts have turned their noses up at Intel's initial Pentium D design, labeling it inelegant compared to AMD's dual-core chips.

The difference between the dual-core Pentium D processor and Yonah is also quite stark, Eden said in response to a reporter's question.

"You are asking me what is the difference between a microprocessor and a donkey," he said.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Tom Krazit

IDG News Service
Show Comments



Sansai 6-Outlet Power Board + 4-Port USB Charging Station

Learn more >



Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?