Articles: CPU

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The major principles used for the design of Montecito processor, are actually very similar to those used for any other dual-core design. Therefore, if I decided to describe Montecito briefly, that will be a chip with two Itanium 2 cores on a single physical die, which are managed by the internal arbiter and boast a larger L3 cache. Just like in Smithfield processors, the cache memory in Montecito is split between the two cores. And it is true not only for the L2 cache, but also for the L3 cache memory. As a result, Montecito processors will have 24MB L3 cache (12Mb for each core) and two pairs of L2 cache memory: 1MB for instructions and 256KB for data for each. So, the total cache memory of a dual-core Itanium 2 successor will be 26.5MB, while the die will consist of 1.72 billion transistors. Montecito processors will be the first CPUs in the Itanium family manufactured with 90nm production process. The gigantic die of these processors will be big. Montecito CPUs are expected to launch at 1.7GHz core clock frequency, while their heat dissipation should stay within 100W range, which will make them look much better than any other dual-core IA-64 Intel processors.

Due to Montecito‚Äôs ability to split the calculations between the two parallel cores, it will also support something similar to Hyper-Threading, which will increase its performance by 1.5-2 times compared with that of the Itanium 2 9M. Moreover, this processor will also support such new technologies as Pellston (to ensure the reliable functioning of the cache memory, the processor will be capable of disabling the failing cache lines) and Foxton (will allow speeding up the CPU in case it is running in good thermal conditions, and slowing it down once its gets too hot).

In 2006 the dual-core Montecito family will get further continuation. Intel will launch better value Itanium processors for dual-socket systems known as Millington alongside with their lower-voltage modification. Then Montecito and Millington will be transferred to 65nm production technology and will change their codename to Montvale. By the way, Intel is going to take more advantages of the dual-core technology in the future when they will work harder on new IA-64 solutions. In the year 2007 already, the company engineers promise that Itanium processors will contain twice as many cores as the Xeon processor family. It looks like Intel is trying to get on the way towards four-core processor architecture for its Itanium 2 successors.

I would like to stress that Montecito is closer to release than any of the other dual-core processors from Intel. There already exist working samples of this CPU based on A0 silicon stepping. Therefore, Intel even managed to showcase a four-way server based on these processors capable of processing up to 16 simultaneous streams of data.

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