Ahead of the Curve: Intel details Core x86 chip plans

At the recent Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco, Intel's new slogan, Leap Ahead, has shown its true meaning: The once-indomitable chipmaker wants a time machine that will let it leap ahead to 2007. After all, 2006 is shaping up to be quite an ugly year for the company, as it faces serious challenges on technological, financial, legal, and strategic fronts.

Fortunately for Intel, there's light at the end of the tunnel. The company's plan to live more simply with an x86 product line based on a single architecture -- adapted from the Pentium M, squeezed down to 65nm, and dubbed Core - has begun to bear fruit.

The first processors using the Core microarchitecture have already appeared in the iMac, MacBook Pro, and Mac mini systems, all of which sport Core Solo or Core Duo 32-bit CPUs. Intel showed off that same Core Duo technology packaged as a server processor dubbed Xeon LV, which is due to ship in March and mainly targets blade servers. Shortly after Xeon LV, Intel will deliver a new dual-core Bensley server platform with a Xeon CPU code-named Dempsey, a new chip set, and a new electrical design.

Then things start to get interesting. In the third quarter of 2006 a faster, reduced-power Core architecture CPU called Woodcrest will go into production sporting 64-bit support, virtualisation technology, and a number of other enhancements. One is Macrofusion, a technique for identifying and reducing pairs of x86 instructions that should have been written as a single instruction. This could yield measurable benefits for dynamic code, older apps, or certain open source apps. Intel also tweaked its Streaming single instruction, multiple data (SIMD) Extensions to execute all requests in a single clock cycle, a feature that will boost Core's gaming performance.

In early 2007, Woodcrest will be followed by Clovertown, a quad-core CPU for dual-processor servers. Interestingly, Clovertown will be socket-compatible with Bensley, meaning that OEMs will be able to get Clovertown quad-core servers to market fast. It will have a four-core desktop cousin, Kentsfield, shipping around the same time.

Woodcrest, Clovertown, and Kentsfield will also underline Intel's greatest point of pride: power conservation. Power Gating is Intel's name for a widely used method of powering down unused portions of a chip. It's applied now at a fairly coarse level, but there is enormous potential for Intel to work finer-grained Power Gating into its SpeedStep dynamic power management.

The Core technology used in Macs and the newest Centrino notebooks isn't long for this earth. Intel's Justin Rattner praised to the 32-bit Core Duo as if to bury it, saying: "Core Duo proved what is possible, and it's given us the foundation for moving forward."

Core Duo looks like a much-needed placeholder. AMD has already announced three new Opteron models and a dual-core version of its Turion mobile CPU, with more introductions expected in the second quarter. Intel's on the right track with the Core microarchitecture, but IT buyers may want to sit tight until late 2006 or early 2007.

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 Yager

Show Comments


James Cook University - Master of Data Science Online Course

Learn more >


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

Learn more >



Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

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?