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IDF Fall 2008 Update (Part 1)

IDF Fall 2008 Update (Part 1)

Nehalem is Coming Soon

It's IDF Fall 2008!

It's that time of the year again where geeks from all over the world gathered once again at Moscone Center in San Francisco to talk and discuss the next big thing in the world of computers. The Intel Developer Forum is a bi-annual event where key Intel executives share with the hardware and software developer community their roadmap of upcoming products and their vision of the future.

In the first day of IDF Fall 2008 this year, Intel made a few new announcements about their upcoming products.

More Nehalem Features Unveiled

The new Nehalem processor, or better known now as the Intel Core i7 processor, will be first introduced into the server segments. The new variant codenamed "Nehalem-EP" will be designed for the efficient performance server segments utilizing up to a maximum of two sockets for a maximum total of 16 cores (for eight-core Nehalems) or 32 threads (with Hyper-Threading enabled). Another derivative designed for servers utilizing four sockets (or more) will also be introduced as "Nehalem-EX". Desktop and mobile versions known as "Havendale", "Lynnfield", "Auburndale" and "Clarksfield" will begin production in the second half of 2009.

Details of when the processors will be launched were not disclosed but it was revealed that server versions of Nehalem will be introduced at the end of 2008, along with the extreme edition version for desktops.

We all know by now that Nehalem will come in 2, 4 or 8 core variants, and that it will feature an integrated DDR3 three-channel memory controller. It will also come with Hyper-Threading technology, effectively doubling the number of processing threads in each processor.

At today's keynote, Pat Gelsinger, senior vice president and general manager of Intel's Digital Enterprise Group, revealed two more new features found in the Nehalem processor.

The first new feature announced today is known as Power Gate. Unlike traditional clock gate standard in all Intel CPUs today which eliminates switching power, it does not remove leakage power. Intel's new power gate technology in Nehalem eliminates both switching and leakage power. This brings individual cores down to almost zero power (C6), thus reducing power consumption very significantly and consequently reduces the core temperature as well. This power gating is performed at the hardware level through a dedicated power control unit. Although it may seem like an addition of a microcontroller to handle the power gating tasks, Intel also had to modify their silicon process to create structures that enable efficient switching of power to used/unused cores.

Since power gate can reduce the thermal and power consumption of the processor during workloads that does not require all of the cores, Intel added another feature to further boost the performance of the cores under such circumstances. Known as Turbo Mode, when some of the cores are switched off under specific workloads that requires only one or two cores (such as games), the remaining cores under operation will have its frequency boosted by as much as the next one or two performance bins. This will give users the added performance to complete their tasks quicker, even if the application is not fully optimized for multiple threads.