As for the actual specifications of Smithfield based CPUs, which will arrive into the market next year, they have all been known for a long time now. In Q3 2005 Intel will launch three processors from this new family, which will supposedly be marked with the following indexes: x20, x30 and x40. It looks like the only significant difference between these three dual-core CPUs is going to be their working frequency. The top x40 model will work at 3.2GHz, the x30 model – at 3.0GHz and the x20 model - at 2.8GHz. Moreover, the x20 processor positioned as a Low-End dual-core solution compatible with a lot of mainboards available in the market, will not support Intel Enhanced SpeedStep technology.
This processor family including three models is going to last for quite a while. Intel is very unlikely to release any faster CPUs within this family, because of the thermal limitations. Therefore, we can expect new dual-core solutions from Intel to arrive only when they master the 65nm production technology, i.e. not earlier than in H2 2006.
For this period of time Intel plans to announce the next generation of dual-core processors for desktop PCs aka Presler. Due to the use of 65nm production process the die size of these CPUs will be below the 140sq.mm, while the die size of Smithfield core is around 240sq.mm.
While Intel is focusing on the desktop dual-core processor solutions, as their utmost plan for the year 2006, they seem to have completely forgotten about the server and workstation markets. Even though their major competitor, AMD Company is going to introduce their dual-core Opteron processors in the middle of the next year, we will not see any dual-core Xeon CPUs from Intel next year. Even despite the fact that these CPUs have been using slightly modified desktop processor cores for years. The major reasons for that are definitely the necessity to invest more time and effort into the more thorough Smithfield development and certainly the absence of the appropriate chipsets for the server and workstation platforms.
The first dual-core Xeon processors are scheduled to come out in early 2006 and are known under the codenames of Dempsey and Paxville. Dempsey will be targeted for dual-socket configurations while Paxville – for multi-socket ones. Despite the relatively similar architecture, the major difference between these two processors and the dual-core Smithfield will be the support of Hyper-Threading technology, which will allow these processors to process up to 4 data streams simultaneously. To support Dempsey and Paxville, Intel plans to release two new chipsets in the beginning of 2006: Blackford and Greencreek. They differ from the predecessors by the ability to work with large amounts of system memory due to the fact that they support Fully Buffered DIMM (FB-DIMM) and new Dual Independent Bus, which allows building the point-to-point topology connection between the chipset North Bridge and each of the physical processors. This innovation can increase the performance of Intel multi-processor systems quite tangibly, since the previous generation multi-processor systems from Intel used to share the same bus between all the CPUs of the system.
However, Intel will still pay some attention to the server market in 2005. Although, the dual-core solutions from Intel launched in 2005 will be based on IA-64 and not on x86 processor architecture. In other words, next year we will see not only the new dual-core Smithfield but also the new Montecito CPU from Intel Itanium family.