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Monday, August 11, 2008

Core i7 Will Be the Name of Intel's Nehalems

The latest reports on Intel's upcoming Nehalem micro-architecture unveiled the fact that the company chose to release the CPUs under the brand name Core i7. The giant chip maker didn't drop the "Core" from the denomination of the processors, as the news site Expreview states, which may suggest the fact that they are meant to let end-users know that the Core 2 micro-architecture is being leveraged to a new level.

Today's Intel desktop, mobile and server microprocessors use the Core 2 architecture, but the name of Core i7 does not show the actual improvements the next-to-come CPUs will bring. Among the micro-architectural enhancements included in the Nehalem processors is the increased parallelism, translated into the execution of 33 percent more concurrent micro-operations at the same time than the predecessors. Faster unaligned cache accesses and quicker synchronization primitives come with the new architecture as well. Intel also included a second level branch predictor that is meant to exclude situations when execution units are idling.

The Nehalem processors have been designed with a brand new cache sub-system. A second level 512 entry translation look-aside buffer will come with the new CPUs, added to the first level TLB, which is intended to reduce the so-called TLB miss rate, this being the first time this feature is included on the x86 microprocessors. Certain implementations of the Nehalem chips will also come with a three-level cache hierarchy: 64KB L1 (32KB for data, 32KB for instructions), 256KB L2 cache per core, 8MB L3 cache per processor. The traditionally used cache policy on Intel processors is inclusive.

The chip manufacturer also said that the high-end Nehalem microprocessors would come with 2 to 8 cores, triple-channel DDR3 memory controllers (initially, they will support up to 1333MHz clock-speed), would use Quick Path Interconnect (QPI) bus, and would support multi-threading technology similar with Intel Hyper-Threading.

The first Nehalem processor that will come to the market is the code-named Bloomfield. This is a quad-core chip manufactured under the 45nm fabrication process, supporting 731 million transistors. The PC market will see 3 Bloomfield processors launched this year, but the only Core i7 Extreme Edition processor currently revealed is the $999 top-of-the-line Bloomfield. Intel is said to officially announce all the i7 processors and i7 Extreme Edition processor on August 11, while the chips will become available starting with the fourth quarter of 2008.

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