Mark down Sept. 7 as the date Intel Corp. unofficially switches from frequency to parallelism as its main microprocessor philosophy. That's when President Paul Otellini will publicly demonstrate Intel's first dual-core processor as part of a keynote at the Intel Developer Forum (Sept 7-9).
Intel will host a smorgasbord of announcements during IDF covering areas including WiMax, ultrawideband and PC management technology for the digital office. But the most significant of these is likely to be the company's first multicore microprocessor, a server chip Intel declined to name.
Past IDF events have been known for their signature demos of super-cooled, ultra-cranked CPUs aimed at wowing the audience with a new frequency ceiling. Those days are over given the decline of performance-hungry applications and the rise of mobile computing.
"Megahertz was how we increased performance in the beginning, but we've been saying for a couple years now that that will run into some fundamental problems," said Frank Spindler, a vice president of Intel's corporate technology group who oversees IDF. "If you keep scaling frequency, you begin to see diminishing returns in processor performance while you see increasing issues in power consumption." Spindler added.
In his keynote, Otellini will describe some of the applications likely to get the most benefit from multicore CPUs, and he will lay out a road map for when such chips will begin to emerge in servers, PCs and other products. Intel has said it will ship Montecito, a dual-core Itanium chip in mid-2005, making it the lead candidate for Otellini's demo. The company has also discussed plans for a dual-core X86 Xeon, but said it may not ship that part, called Tulsa, until 2006.