San Francisco (CA) - Although not officially announced, Intel officials discussed the upcoming Pentium 64-bit 6xx-series during the ISSCC 2005. The corresponding Xeon MP platform will debut as single-core processor and receive a dual-core update later this year.
The upcoming 6xx-series are no secret anymore, so decision at Intel to discuss the processor is not really surprising. Besides 64-bit functionality the processor however introduces a few features that could make it a worthy update before dual-core processors, code-named "Smithfield", enter the mainstream late 2005 or early 2006.
The chips are equipped with a 2 MByte Level 2 cache that, according to Intel, will provide a visible performance advantage over the current 5xx series. More significant however is the fact that Intel will introduce its SpeedStep power management technology, which previously only was available for notebook processors, to the desktop. The 64-bit Pentiums are expected to be first in a wave of new processors that will play with clock throttling in order to decrease overall power consumption of the chips.
According to Rob Crooke, vice president in Intel's Digital Enterprise Group, the processors will fit into "stylish" and smaller designs due to their "cool and quite" operation.
While the Intel's desktop processors just get started on 64-bit, the Xeon server and workstation platform moves into its second stage. "Within a couple weeks," said marketing director Phil Brace, a 64-bit Xeon MP will be offered as an extension to the existing Xeon DP 64-bit. The MP will support up to four individual processors and make its debut within the "Truland" platform. According to Brace, the MP is "architected for dual-core", but will make its debut as single-core version with Potomac and Cranford cores with up to eight MByte L3 cache and will be accompanied by the 8500 chipset (Twin Castle).