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Microarchitectural Improvements to Be Available, Too

If we look at the actual Ivy Bridge cores, we will see that they boast a few microarchitectural improvements. They are not too numerous, but there are a few things we should point out at this time.

One thing we were especially interested in was the introduction of a hardware random numbers generator to be integrated into the upcoming Ivy Bridge, which will be truly irreplaceable in cryptographic tasks.

Here we are talking not about a pseudo-random generator producing numbers according to a certain mathematical algorithm, but about a true random numbers generator that uses a physical process with indeterminate states. They often use Geiger counter for this, but Intel came up with an algorithm based on indeterminate states of a complex semiconductor circuitry. It allows generating high flow of random numbers in total accordance with cryptographic standards.

Another extremely important innovation is Supervisory Mode Execute Protection (SEMP), which should help against Escalation of Privilege (EoP) type of attacks. The main idea of this innovation is to prevent an alien application from invading the OS services with higher privileges. To solve this task the memory employed by user applications will have a special flag, which will prevent these applications from running in supervisor mode.

And of course, there will be a number of minor innovations, which are described in the following slide:

Final Remarks

Of course, the story of Ivy Bridge we shared with you today doesn’t cover everything. In fact, we only got a quick look at what is going to be “under the hood” and received a few performance teasers. Ivy Bridge is claimed to be 20% faster, but we don’t know yet what part of this increase will result from higher clock frequencies. At this point there are no actual performance numbers, frequencies, prices or model names officially released. And there is a good reason for that. Intel has pushed the launch date for Ivy Bridge a little back. As of now these processors are scheduled to come into production by the end of the year, but will be officially launched in March-April of 2012, which is still 6 months away.

The only exact number, which is publicly available at this time is the number of transistors inside the Ivy Bridge die. They will increase to 1.45 billion. It means that the upcoming processors will be 45% more complex than Sandy Bridge and a significant contribution to the transistor count will come from the graphics core. It will now occupy more than 30% of the semiconductor die.

So, there will obviously be more interesting details about Ivy Bridge processors yet to come and it is not the last Ivy Bridge article on our site.

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