Chicago (IL) - Intel is running its development and manufacturing resources at full speed to roll out its "Core" architecture later its year. In-Stat analyst Jim McGregor believes that the company will not slow down and take any chances to fall behind again: Quad-core chips appear on the horizon and the company may be introducing a new microarchitecture in 2007 or 2008.
There is no doubt that 2006 will be one of most interesting years for the microprocessor industry in several years. Surprised by AMD's dual-core processors that are eating away its revenue in market segments the company never had been challenged in, Intel is expected introduce a superior architecture: Intel puts its bets on "Core," an architecture that is promised to increase the efficiency of processors and achieve performance leadership when introduced.
There is very little information on Intel's product plans once Core will be available. But if we believe Jim McGregor, author of this month's Microprocessor Report titled "Intel's Road To Quad-Core," the company may be rather accelerating its roadmap than slowing down and waiting for Core to succeed. Most interestingly, McGregor believes that Intel may be planning a "significantly different microarchitecture in the 2007-2008 timeframe that will quickly proliferate through the platforms." He did not provide any further details about such an architecture in his report, but mentioned that Intel may take this route in an effort "to avoid a repeat of the recent past and maintain a continuous flow of innovation." We were not able to reach McGregor to find out more about this assessment and whether this architecture will be replacing or expanding existing products.
At the most recent IDF, Intel demonstrated "Kentsfield," the first quad-core processor, but had surprisingly few updates on the product's capabilities available. According to McGregor, Intel will be "less aggressive on the move to quad-core for the PC than it has been with the dual-core transition and expects initial adoption in low-end servers and high-end PCs only." A reason may be that "quad-core processors from both Intel and AMD will also significantly challenge the software community, which is currently struggling to fully utilize the benefits of two cores," McGregor writes. He believes that "the ramp of quad-core should be very slow through the first year of introduction, with a push as the company enters the manufacturing transition [from 65nm to 45 nm]."
According to roadmaps seen by Tom's Hardware and TG Daily, Kentsfield will be Intel's first quad-core desktop processor, due to be released in Q1 of 2007. The chip will be carrying two Allendale cores, which is a stripped-down dual-core Conroe processor with 2 MB L2 cache. "Tigerton" and "Dunnington" (both Xeon MP 7000 series) will be joining the quad-core family in 2007 and 2008, respectively. "Clovertown" will be the first Xeon DP quad-core (5100 series). On the very high end, the Itanium 2 family will get four cores with "Tukwila" and "Poulson" in 2008 and 2009.
According to McGregor, Intel is also planning a quad-core mobile processor, "but [the company] is providing few details" at this time. He indicated that this processor may be introduced in the not too distant future and in fact may be a processor that is compatible with the "Santa Rosa" platform - which will be launched in Q2 of 2007 as a refresh for the Merom processor.
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