For the past few months we had a great opportunity to see Intel doing something outstanding: they have been copying all most successful AMD’s initiatives, introduced into life since the company launched their processors based on AMD64 architecture. At first Intel revealed its intention to provide x86 processors with the 64bit EMT64 expansion, which looked so very similar to AMD64 and which was compatible with the latter on the software level. Then the company announced its plans about the implementation of the NX bit support in their Pentium 4 processors based on the Prescott core, which are due in the fall. This bit is supposed to help implement additional protection of the system OS against viruses: this technology has actually been also borrowed from AMD Athlon 64 on their launch day.
The third idea Intel borrowed from the competitor processors was the Cool’n’Quiet technology, as Intel is going to implement its vision of this initiative in its upcoming Pentium 4 CPUs. However following in the competitor’s footsteps in terms of progressive new technologies support doesn’t at all mean that Intel decided to give up the laurels of the technology leader. The company engineers simply cannot disregard any smart ideas no matter who suggests them. In fact the today’s announcement is a direct proof of this point and of the fact that Intel keeps acting as the industry locomotive force.
First of all, today Intel officially announced one more CPU in the Pentium 4 processor family based on the 90nm Prescott core. This time it is a 3.6GHz model. The launch of this CPU is evidently none other but Intel’s response to AMD’s 3.6GHz CPU launch, which took place in the beginning of the month. As you remember the company has already announced 3800+ models with the dual channel memory controller and 2.4GHz actual working frequency. Today we are going to find out if Intel responded worthily, and in the meanwhile we will not dwell that much on the new processor, especially since it is not that very different from the predecessor from the architectural point of view. Actually, the today’s second announcement is of much more importance.
Besides the new CPU, Intel is also launching today a completely new platform: a new chipset family also known as Alderwood and Grantsdale. With the launch of these chipsets Intel starts pushing into the market a few innovative technologies, including such really important once as DDR2 SDRAM and the new bus for graphics and peripheral devices called PCI Express. Moreover, the new platforms will also feature a number of other important innovations, such as new LGA775 processor socket form-factor, Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 900, Intel Matrix Storage, Intel High Definition Audio, Intel Wireless Connect technologies, etc. As a result, we can even claim that the Pentium 4 platform is undergoing the most serious changes it has ever gone through.
It is very important to understand what we all need these mass changes for, especially since Intel’s platform has already been very successful all this time. Intel is very unlikely to introduce such serious innovations just for the sake of these mere innovations. Intel should evidently be pursuing some utilitarian goals by launching a completely new architecture, rather than strive for the simple performance increase. Since most of the freshly introduced technologies will not simply speed up the platform. The idea behind many of them has a lot to do with the “Digital home and office” concept. Due to higher bandwidth of the buses, improved multimedia features and increased functionality in terms of new network connections support, new platforms are becoming more attractive for home and office needs, which should be coordinating all home and office appliances together or even replacing some of them completely. However, let’s leave the marketing reasons for Intel employees, as they can definitely explain them much better to you. We are going to take a closer look at the new Intel platforms from the technological point of view.