Intel Shows Off First Working Nehalem Microprocessor, Promises Octa-Core Chips in 2008

Intel Reveals More Information About Next-Gen Nehalem Platforms, Readies Chips with Eight Cores

by Anton Shilov
09/18/2007 | 10:54 PM

On the first day of its Intel Developer Forum (IDF), Intel Corp. demonstrated what it claimed to be the very first system running code-named Nehalem processor that features integrated memory controller as well as uses new Intel Quick Path link instead of contemporary processor system bus.


“Next year, we’ll have 45 nanometers with a new micro-architecture called Nehalem. […] We are on track to second half ‘08. What I wanted to say is that the design is complete. Nehalem was finished about – I guess about a month ago. We have wafers running in fab. This is one of the first Nehalem wafers that’s come out of fab,” said Paul Otellini, chief executive of Intel Corp., showing the wafer to attendees of his keynote.

Intel’s Nehalem processors are based on the brand new micro-architecture that is not only more efficient and advanced compared to Intel Core 2, it is also feature a new multi-threading technology, which will allow to virtually double the amount of cores available. But besides integrated memory controller, new type of processor bus, integrated graphics core in select models and revamped micro-architecture, the Nehalem promises very high customizability, according to Intel Corp.

“Nehalem is a very dynamic design from a number of perspectives. From an Intel perspective, it’s a very modular design. We have the ability to change the configuration of cores, to change the configuration of cache size, to change the configuration of I/O, power envelopes and so forth to be able to meet the needs of an increasingly diverse segment of our product needs,” said chief executive of Intel.

According to Mr. Otellini, software developers will also be able to configure performance of Nehalem processors according to the needs of a particular application, a similar capability to what Advanced Micro Devices calls Light-Weight Profiling Technology. But while software tweaking can bring performance increases, there is no way to avoid the need for additional horsepower and Nehalem seems to have it: as much as eight processing engines will be featured per processor.

“At the largest configuration that we'll ship in 2008, they'll be an eight-core product. Eight core on one die, and each core will have two threads. So, each eight-core die will be supporting 16 threads. Think about what the performance could be in a dual-core or quad-core and beyond configuration for simultaneous multitasking,” Mr. Otellini said.

Even though Intel produced the first Nehalem samples three weeks ago, the chips can now load Microsoft Windows operating system and even run applications, the company indicated.

“Now, Nehalem is looking great for having silicon for only about three weeks. And it’s great to see it running major [Windows] operating systems and applications. And we’re looking forward to turning it into products in 2008,” said Glenn Hilton, a microprocessor developer at Intel.