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Multi-Core Processor Architecture

Well, I believe you would like to hear some real processor news now and to see some real processors. Let’s do it! At the session devoted to the dual-core architectures, Intel said and showed quite a few exciting things. But let’s start from the very beginning: I am sure revising a few key things will only do us good.

What is a dual-core or multi-core processor?

It is two independent execution cores in one single processor. There are two different design configurations driven by different efficiencies and optimizations. The first one is monolithic implementation, i.e. when we have one physical piece of silicon. The second one is multi-chip, that is when there are two pieces of silicon. As you can see from a picture below, different production methods are used for each of them:

Of course, there are advantages in each production method. Monolithic chips are easier to cut from the wafer and put into the package as a single piece of silicon. With multi-chip design it is more challenging to put two chips together into a single die, but o the other hand it gives us more flexibility in combining chips. That is from the production or technology standpoint.

For the end-user there is really no difference. There is no way to tell by looking at the package what is inside.

Intel Roadmap

Right now, as you know, there are two dual-core processors available. These are Pentium D and Pentium Extreme Edition. Here is a brief summary of their features, just to refresh your memory :)

This is exactly what the roadmap shows:

Blue – single core, Green – multi-core (>=2), Brown – multi-core (>=4)

However, this roadmap also shows a lot of other new products, which we are going to talk more about right now.

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