At the IDF that took place in San Francisco about a month ago we have already got our first experience with the new quad-core Intel processor also known as Kentsfield (for details see our Intel Kentsfield Preview). However, that was hardly full-fledged experience. Everything we did was strictly monitored by Intel guys, who wouldn’t let us veer even a little bit away from the plan. Luckily, we have finally got some Kentsfield samples for our lab, therefore, we are proud to share with you the results of real indepth test session. Of course, this review was only possible because these processors are officially announced today. So, if you get really interested in the new Intel Kentsfield processor, you should be able to easily buy one for your system or to get a complete Kentsfield based platform from one of Intel’s partners.
Therefore, we can state that today we witness the beginning of new processor expansion into the desktop market, only these CPUs have more than two cores onboard. Note that it took Intel only one and a half years to move from dual-core processors towards quad-core processor designs, which proves that Intel is being very serious about pursuing higher parallelism. However, I would like to stress that it was not the contemporary software that stimulated the introduction of additional cores into the new processors. Even though there are quite a few applications that can split the work into four parallel threads quite efficiently, they are all of the same type and deal mostly with media content processing or 3D rendering. So, the idea to increase the number of processor cores comes solely from the processor developers. They need to continue developing their solutions, but they can no longer raise the processor working frequency, because of the growing CPU power consumption. In other words, Intel’s new quad-core processor launch is intended to demonstrate the software developers that the time has come for dramatic revision of common working algorithms towards higher parallelism.
At this time Intel will position Kentsfield processors for the top price market. So, they will be primarily targeted for such computer enthusiasts as hardcore gamers. However, so far we cannot think of any 3D game that could be able to utilize all four cores. Luckily, this situation should change next year when at least five games should come out that will fully support Kentsfield. These will be: THQ Supreme Commander, Remedy Alan Wake, Valve Half-Life 2: Episode 2, Epic Unreal Engine 3 and Ubisoft Splinter Cell: Double Agent. So, I believe we have every right to say that even the developers of traditional single-threaded applications start adapting their software for the realities of the today’s processor market.
I have to say that Intel managed to get a way ahead of AMD with the quad-core processor announcement. AMD is planning to launch similar designed CPUs no sooner than in the middle of next year. However, in the meanwhile, they will roll out the so-called 4x4 platform that will include two dual-core processors that should help them retain their positions against the background of the competitor. We are definitely going to pay special attention to this new AMD platform in the nearest future, but today let’s talk about the new Intel’s quad-core CPU aka Kentsfield.