Intel Tips New, Revamped Microarchitecture

Intel moves to renew its x86-based chip line by disclosing details of its long-awaited microarchitecture.

March 7, 2006

3 Min Read
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SAN JOSE, Calif. — Hoping to regain lost momentum in the microprocessor market, Intel Corp. on Tuesday (March 7) moved to renew its x86-based chip line by disclosing details of its new and long-awaited microarchitecture technology.

Intel’s new and so-called Core microarchitecture is one of the company’s most important technologies ever. The microarchitecture will eventually replace the company’s current Pentium 4-based NetBurst architecture, which was introduced several years ago. The technology is also aimed to compete more favorably against rival chips from Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD).

Built around a 65-nm process technology, Intel’s new products based on the Core microarchitecture will show up in the third quarter in the Woodcrest platform for servers, Conroe for desktop PCs, and Merom for mobile PCs, according to the company’s road map. Details on these long-awaited chips have been out for some time, according to other road maps.

On Tuesday, Intel also disclosed more details about its next-generation processors for servers, including a pair of quad-core designs. It also disclosed the first details of its next-generation mobile platform.

During the opening keynote at the Intel Developer Forum (IDF), the company described other key enabling technologies for the microarchitecture, such as wide dynamic execution, intelligent power, smart cache and smart memory access."The Intel Core microarchitecture is a milestone in enabling scalable performance and energy efficiency," said Justin Rattner, Intel Senior Fellow and chief technology officer, in a keynote at IDF.

"Later this year it will fuel new dual-core processors and quad-core processors in 2007 that we expect to deliver industry-leading performance and capabilities per watt,” he said. “People will see systems that can be faster, smaller and quieter with longer battery life and lower electric bills."

In his keynote, Rattner showed how the Conroe desktop processor could provide roughly a 40 percent boost in performance and a 40 percent decrease in power compared with Intel's current high-performing Pentium D 950 processor.

Intel also hopes the products will get the company back on track in the x86-based processor market, where the company has lost share to AMD. Last week, Intel said that first-quarter revenue will range between $8.7 billion and $9.1 billion, compared with the previous guidance of $9.1 billion to $9.7 billion. It cited weaker-than-expected demand and a slight loss of market share.

According to Intel, the microarchitecture includes several new advances in the PC platform:

  • Intel Wide Dynamic Execution. In this front, every execution core is wider, allowing each core to complete as many as four full instructions simultaneously using an efficient 14-stage pipeline.

  • Intel Intelligent Power Capability. Includes features that further reduce power consumption by intelligently powering on individual logic subsystems only when required.

  • Intel Advanced Smart Cache. This includes a shared L2 cache to reduce power by minimizing memory traffic and increase performance by allowing one core to use the entire cache when the other core is idle.

  • Intel Smart Memory Access. Another feature that improves system performance by hiding memory latency and thus optimizing the use of data bandwidth out to the memory subsystem.

  • Intel Advanced Digital Media Boost. All 128-bit SSE, SSE2 and SSE3 instructions execute within only one cycle. This effectively doubles the execution speed for these instructions, which are used widely in multimedia and graphics applications.0

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