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While Intel Corp. may beat its rival Advanced Micro Devices in terms of time-to-market with its quad-core processors, such chips will not offer customers absolutely highest performance possible due to their design, according to claims made by Insight 64 analyst Nathan Brookwood.

Intel’s code-named Clovertown chip is the company’s first microprocessor to feature four execution engines, or cores. The chip is designed for dual-socket servers and it is known that it is produced using 65nm process technology. Intel Corp. recently demonstrated the new product in an attempt to show off its technological excellence. However, the company did not reveal any peculiarities of the Clovertown’s design.

Back in 2004 analyst Nathan Brookwood of Insight 64 said that Intel’s first-generation dual-core processors would use the so-called “ad hoc” design, or will just have two independent processing engines on a single piece of substrate which will communicate using processor system bus (PSB), just like single-core processors in dual-processor and multi-processor servers. By contrast, dual-core AMD Athlon 64 X2, dual-core AMD Opteron, Intel Core Duo (Yonah) as well as code-named Conroe, Merom and Woodcrest processors have built-in interfaces that allow rapid communication between cores without using PSB and shared level-two caches, something that makes them much more efficient.

Based on the fact that Intel declines to reveal whether Clovertown is a chip that was designed to be quad-core from the ground-up, Mr. Brookwood believes that the Clovertown is a product featuring two Woodcrest cores. The Woodcrest is a processor featuring Intel’s next-generation micro-architecture that was developed to be a dual-core chip with shared bus interface and L2 cache.

“We are confident that eventually Intel will introduce quad-core processors with competitive performance, but we doubt that Clovertown will be the vehicle that meets this target,” a report from Insight 64 claims.

The research firm believes that quad-core processors sharing a bus and memory bandwidth will not perform as efficiently as quad-core processors from rival AMD, which quad-core chips are believed to share memory controller only and, perhaps, use unified caches.

“The next generation Woodcrest and Clovertown processors will clearly allow Intel to narrow the performance gap between it and AMD, but until Intel comes up with an architected quad-core processor with a scalable memory system, we doubt that the company will surpass AMD’s two- and four-socket performance metrics,” the report concludes.


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