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From Performance to Performance-Per-Watt

Intel architecture keeps evolving. Right now Intel is moving beyond GHz. They are trying to meet broader set of user needs. It is not just performance that matters most right now, but performance per watt. Since the whole industry is going more mobile (I have already mentioned that a few paragraphs ago), the performance per watt appears a more natural essential parameter for those things that you carry around with you. Of course, it is also essential for things that go beyond the notion of mobility.

Well, Intel began moving towards performance per watt concept and the first manifestation of it was in the notebook arena. Namely in Yonah. As you may see, Yonah has been significantly improved compared with Banias. And this year Intel will also ship a significantly improved Yonah that will offer twice as much performance per watt as Banias. How is this possible to achieve?

The trick here is very simple: Intel changed the focus from speed of a single-core processor to the performance of multi-core technology. Let’s get a little bit deeper into detail here.

So far Intel has been shipping two different micro-architectures. One is NetBurst micro-architecture, which delivers ultimate performance. Another is mobile micro-architecture, which is focused on the most optimal power characteristics. Today at IDF Fall 2005 Intel announced a combination of these two, a new generation architecture that will come out in 2006:

This new generation technology will find its implementation in all three major market segments: in the mobile, desktop and server. And this is where we will get new level of performance per watt.

In the mobile segment it will appear in the new solution aka Merom. During the keynote we could see a Merom based notebook running 64bit Windows XP Professional Edition operating system.

In the desktop segment we are talking about a new solution aka Conroe. The demo system on the stage was running Linux 64bit on Conroe platform.

In the server segment Intel will be introducing Woodcrest. And already today we could see a dual-processor server running on two dual-core Woodcrest processors (the total of 4 cores).

As for the new level of performance per watt we are talking about, Intel anticipates about 3x performance increase in the mobile segment with the arrival of Merom solution, about 5x increase with Conroe in the desktop segment and Woodcrest should bring about 3x increase (here we are talking about the TBS performance in relation to servers).

According to Intel’s roadmap, all these products will be shipping in H2’2006 and will be manufactured using 65nm production process (note that besides dual-core, Intel is also planning to roll out two new single-core products designed with 65nm technology at about the same time). By Q3 2006 the shipments of 65nm CPUs from Intel are expected to surpass those of 90nm CPUs. The same forecast has been made for dual-core processors versus single-core ones. Intel expects to ship 60 million of dual-core processors next year.

But this is not all. Beyond this Intel will also have quad-core. They are already working on over 10 quad-core projects, and I would say there are more to come.

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