Articles: CPU

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In order to make Smithfield more attractive for the users, Intel will introduce a few other new technologies besides the dual-core architecture. It is absolutely clear that Smithfield processors will support EM64T technology (Intel Extended Memory 64 Technology), 64-bit extensions for the x86 architecture being a functional analogue to AMD64. It is also evident that Smithfield processors will support Intel SpeedStep Technology (aimed at reducing the heat dissipation by lowering the CPU working frequency when the workload is not that high) and Execute Disable Bit (allows creating better shield protecting the operating system against harmful software). In fact, you will also be able to see these technologies supported in the single-core Pentium 4 processors, which are scheduled to come out next year. As for the unique peculiarities of the Smithfield CPUs, I could list among them the support of Vanderpool virtualization technology and LaGrande security technology in the first place. However, we are very unlikely to be able to take advantage of these technologies until Microsoft Longhorn OS comes out, that is until 2006. therefore, Vanderpool and LaGrande should officially be announced only when the production of Smithfield CPUs moves to 65nm process.

Speaking about different technologies implemented in dual-core Smithfield processors, we cannot disregard the fact that the “virtual dual-core” Hyper-Threading technology will be disabled in this solution. The reasons for that are pretty evident: it is not an easy task to arrange correct distribution of data streams between the physical and virtual cores, which will definitely require additional execution units to be introduced in the CPU. Of course, if the application creates two computational threads, it is clear that each should be allocated to an individual physical core. But what should be done if there are three threads, for example? In order to prevent the already complex design of the dual-core Smithfield from becoming even more complex, and to avoid the launch delays caused by the necessity to complete additional engineering research and development, Intel simply decided to give up Hyper-Threading in their upcoming Smithfield. So, since each of the two Prescott cores used in Smithfield CPU does potentially support Hyper-Threading, it will be disabled in the dual-core Smithfield processor.

Just like the dual-core AMD solutions, the upcoming Smithfield CPUs will be compatible with the currently existing infrastructure. Due to the built-in arbiter responsible for the communication between the two internal cores, the new dual-core processors will be able to work in the same mainboards, as we are bow using for single-core top Pentium 4 processors on Prescott core. Therefore, Smithfield will support 800MHz Quad Pumped Bus and will be designed for LGA775 form-factor. However, even though Smithfield is compatible with the i925/i915 based mainboards, Intel still recommends using it in the platforms based around the new upcoming sets of core logic called Glenwood and Lakeport. The reason for that is first of all the ability of these new chipsets to support large amount of system memory (up to 8GB), which may be essential for dual-core processors supporting EM64T technology.

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