Articles: CPU

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When we were getting ready for the IDF Fall 2009, we anticipated to hear some exciting details about the upcoming 32 nm processors based on Nehalem microarchitecture. Yes, I am talking about the CPUs known as Westmere.

According to Intel’s “Tick-Tock” concept, that they have been actively promoting for the past few years, Westmere should become Nehalem’s die-shrink manufactured with new 32 nm process. Intel confirmed that they have no problems with 32 nm process, it has been certified and the first semiconductor wafers are already coming off the production lines. Within the fourth quarter they are planning to launch mass production. First mass production solutions using 32 nm cores will start selling in the very beginning of 2010. And this time Intel decided to focus primarily on desktop and mobile mainstream processors codenamed Clarkdale and Arrendale.

Our today’s short report is going to dwell on Clarkdale. As for Arrandale, it will offer very similar functionality but adopted for the mobile segment.

Clarkdale: Dual-core Nehalem?

Note that the introduction of 32 nm technology into the desktop computer segment will start with general-purpose systems rather than high-end, where first 32 nm six-core Gulftown processors will only appear 6 months later. The first design of the 32 nm Westmere semiconductor die will contain only two cores, although they will support Hyper-Threading technology, which means that the operating systems will see Clarkdale and Arrandale as processors with four computational cores. This is what the processor die of Clarkdale/Arrandale solutions will look like:

As you can see, there is not that much cache here compared with the rest of the CPU. Don’t be surprised, first-generation Westmere processors with two computational cores will only have 4 MB of L3 cache onboard. However, the new manufacturing process will allow raising their clock frequencies: the top Clarkdale CPU will work at 3.46 GHz. Hyper-Threading technology together with high clock frequencies will allow Clarkdale processors to perform very successfully in the same field as quad-core Yorkfiled and even Lynnfield CPUs. However, they won’t completely oust Lynnfield CPUs from the scene that is why those of you who have already bought Core i7-800 and Core i5-700 processors won’t regret it.

In other words, 32 nm Gulftown and Clarkdale will successfully coexist with their 45 nm predecessors for quite some time after their official launch.

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