What is quad-core processing? It means that the CPU has four physical processing cores in one package and the package fits into the existing infrastructure that we have. In other words, it means that the upcoming launch of the quad-core solutions will not require any massive platform changes. In fact, the same platforms will be able to work with both: dual-core Conroe CPUs as well as quad-core Kentsfield.
Intel engineers decided not to design any principally new processor solution that would combine four cores on a single semiconductor die. Kentsfield will consist of two physical dies each of which is a monolithic core. From this prospective, Kentsfield is very similar to the dual-core Smithfield processors on NetBurst micro-architecture, where there simply were two cores mounted onto a single processor board. Intel is going to do the same thing this time. In fact, Kentsfield is none other but two Conroe processors joint together in a single processor casing at the packaging stage.
There are a lot of advantages to this approach. However the primary one is simple production process. With this multi-chip approach Intel gets at least 10% cost savings during manufacturing. They practically share the same dies and manufacturing facilities for building dual-core and quad-core processors. They can select the best die on the wafer to achieve the power and performance characteristics for the quad-core processor. So, it helps with the supply.
The product is based on the Core micro-architecture, the same design that is used in Core 2 Duo. It is an energy efficient design. No part of the circuitry is powered on unless we need it. Intel will be able to offer quad-core in volume offering 80W thermal envelope. With that configuration they promise us 50% increase in performance. And finally they will also have lower power offering with 50W power consumption for the dense computer environments.
Let’s say a few words about the upcoming company roadmap. We can expect the first quad-core product in the extreme segment in November. It will be extension of Core 2 Extreme. Intel already has the world's highest performance processor in the desktop segment, and they will increase the performance lead by offering Kentsfield, which will go into the same platform as the today's Core 2 Extreme. In 2007 Intel will be offering their mainstream desktop solution – an extension of Core 2 processors also known as Core 2 Quad at a number of price points that will ramp across the year 2007. Penryn and Nahalem families will be the next-generation designs (manufactured with 45nm production process).
The situation in the server space is a little bit more complicated.