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Moorestown And Turbo Boost

Intel Developer Forum, Day Two: 6 Gb/s, USB 3.0, And Lucid
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The deep dive session on Moorestown, Intel’s update to the wildly successful Atom processor, was heavily attended. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Moorestown is how far it will distance itself from the PC.

Moorestown's power consumption at standby will be reduced by up to 50x. Moorestown will be the core of a new line of SoCs (systems-on-chip) from Intel. So, unlike the current Atom, we may see many different instantiations of Moorestown products, aimed at highly segmented markets.

The Moorestown platform will mainly consist of two parts: Lincroft (the SoC) at 45nm and Briertown. Lincroft will have the CPU, MIPI display interface, LP (low power) DDR memory controller, plus 2D/3D graphics and memory controller. Briertown is the second chip which has SDIO, audio engine, modem for 3G, and so on.

Lincroft brings in the display and memory controller into the CPU die, plus graphics and video decode capabilities. The new CPU will have Hyper-Threading and “burst mode,” similar to Turbo Boost on Intel’s desktop and laptop CPUs.

Power reduction is partly enabled by moving to the type of I/O infrastructure used in handheld and mobile devices, including SDIO, MIPI (for displays), and low power DDR memory. Also, the graphics and video decoders can run independently of the CPU at lower power. So graphics, video decode, and audio are fixed-function coprocessors.

What’s being left out of Moorestown are PC interfaces. For example, MIPI is replacing LVDS as the display interface. PCI Express is out entirely. USB will be present, but not SATA I/O. If Intel’s goal is to segment Atom based netbooks so that they’re more limited than PCs, then Moorestown will accomplish this. On the other hand, it will be much more power efficient than a PC-like device, while maintaining Atom-like levels of performance.

Turbo Boost

We’ve talked about Turbo Boost in the past. Turbo Boost is a feature of Intel’s Nehalem CPU that allows the frequency of utilized cores to ramp up to higher clock speeds in order to bolster the performance of a lightly-threaded app. The limiting factor is TDP--thermal design power. As long as the overall CPU remains within the thermal budget, the core (or cores) can be pushed harder than the default frequency to get a bit more performance.

With Intel’s upcoming Arrandale and Clarkdale 32nm dual-core CPUs (which support four threads via Hyper-Threading), Turbo Boost also affects the on-die integrated graphics core. Graphics Turbo will be introduced with Intel’s Arrandale 32nm mobile CPU. Intel is building in a “graphics turbo manager” that manages the power budget for the integrated graphics core. There will be a Turbo Boost driver that handles Turbo Boost across the two CPU cores and the graphics core.

In the case of running a graphics-intensive application that’s not hitting the CPU very hard, then the GPU clock frequency scales up, just as it would on a CPU core affected by Turbo Boost. Currently, the Arrandale Turbo Boost driver will be a Windows 7 component, and only support the integrated graphics core.

Should the laptop instead include a discrete graphics chip, graphics turbo doesn’t affect its performance. However, Turbo Boost still has some impact on the graphics chip, since the processor has PCI Express and memory controllers on board.

The upshot of all this, from the point of view of companies building laptops, is that the design of the thermal solutions to keep notebooks cool are more critical than ever. Turbo Boost will keep the system running closer to the maximum thermal envelope. So, it’s important that Arrandale laptops have proper cooling solutions. Intel has data that shows the skin of the laptop (palm rests, the underside of the case) often become hotter than the actual CPU, which affects its overall performance envelope. A poorly designed cooling solution will mean the system won’t run at its maximum possible performance under Turbo Boost.

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  • 1 Hide
    Korok , September 24, 2009 3:04 AM
    any ETAs ?
  • 0 Hide
    JohnnyLucky , September 24, 2009 4:20 AM
    Interesting article. I'm finding it more and more difficult keeping up with all the technology.
  • 0 Hide
    burnley14 , September 24, 2009 5:33 AM
    It's interesting that USB 3.0, DisplayPort, and Sata 6 would all be coming to fruition at about the same time, since they are all interfaces/ports
  • 0 Hide
    battery , September 24, 2009 7:00 AM
    i'm really looking forward to usb 3.0, not to say that the other techs aren't as impressive, i'm just tired of the depressingly slow usb 2.0
    i've always been a fan of display port, definitely gonna pick up a 5870, perhaps an X2..

    whats all this boycott intel spam shit?
  • 0 Hide
    apache_lives , September 24, 2009 9:31 AM
    saljr its 99.9999999% safe to say your typing away on some form of device that has something to do with some form of Intel developed technology - boycotting intel is like burying your head in the sand and saying you dont want better products ever - at the end of the day there the market leaders bringing us new stuff all the time - say thank you if anything :D 

    also thank AMD for competition
  • 0 Hide
    apache_lives , September 24, 2009 9:33 AM
    batteryi'm really looking forward to usb 3.0, not to say that the other techs aren't as impressive, i'm just tired of the depressingly slow usb 2.0i've always been a fan of display port, definitely gonna pick up a 5870, perhaps an X2..whats all this boycott intel spam shit?


    wonder if its compatible and capable of converting back to VGA/15 pin monitors - got two 19's still
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , September 24, 2009 3:18 PM
    This is interesting!
    It's going to bring new challenges to benchmarks, as now you'll need a fixed room temperature to benchmark systems with turbo boost.
    Benchmarks tested of the same device, in cold or hot environments could give different results. Something perhaps not noticable with Corei7 machines, but on atom levels a 10 degrees C environment could boost the benchmark by several frames per second over a 35 degrees environment.

    I hear all of this, and wished we could already buy a netbook with turbo boost on CPU and GPU, and a netbook equipped with PixelQi's LCD!

    Add that to a 6cell battery, that gives 18 hours of battery life, and I'm sold!
    Hope those netbooks will stay under $300 though!
  • 0 Hide
    underapew , September 24, 2009 7:47 PM
    USB 3.0 is soooooooooo needed - speed looks good - is there +12v support, or just +5 - we need an interface that can support 7200 rpm drives with 1 connection
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , September 25, 2009 12:00 AM
    Loyd,It's nice to see you bounced back from "that other site". Congrats and keep it up!