It’s been about 10 years since multicore processors burst on the scene, and we’re now seeing several innovative variations. At first, chip designers simply replicated CPU cores, filling their silicon with copies of the same brain. Now they are exploring alternatives—and these variations will change the way we benchmark performance and compare processors.
Before you go maxing out the available balance on your credit card picking up Intel's Core i7 980X processor, you may want to hang tight for a couple of months. According to news and rumor site Fudzilla, the Santa Clara chip maker will introduce its new flagship part, the Core i7 990X six-core chip, to the market in the first quarter of 2011.
The new part will come clocked at 3.46GHz on each of its six cores with a 3.73GHz Turbo clock. Otherwise, not much as changed -- it's still rated at 130W, supports DDR3 memory, comes equipped with 12MB of cache, and won't have any integrated graphics like those fancy Sandy Bridge parts.
Look for pricing to remain at $1,000 for Intel's flagship part, which should drive down prices on remaining Core i7 980X processors, particularly in the used market.
Chips based on this new multi-core design will be able to run at speeds of up to 2.5GHz. Performance-wise, the Cortex-A15 MPCore is said to be five times better than contemporary smartphone processors. The Cortex-A15 MPCore processor is now available for licensing to “and is targeted at manufacture in 32nm, 28nm and future geometries,” ARM announced on Wednesday.
“The launch of the Cortex-A15 MPCore processor marks the beginning of an entirely new era for the ARM Partnership. It brings together more than 20 years of ARM expertise in low-power design with a host of new and very aggressive high-performance technologies,” said Mike Inglis, EVP and GM, Processor Division, ARM.
The first batch of products featuring chips based on the A15 architecture aren't expected to come out before the end of 2012.
Forget that six-core Gulftown Core i7. There’s a new Intel Xeon chip on the way with a whopping eight cores of processing goodness. Surely you can utilize eight cores in your home system, right? Well, maybe not, but the Nehalem-EX chip is likely to spice things up in the server sector when it launches later this month.
The Nehalem-EX will be a Xeon part built on Intel’s 45nm process technology. The chip will have hyperthreading, meaning up to 16 threads per processor. Clock speed is currently unknown. Being a server part, scalability is important and the Nehalem-EX won’t disappoint here. Thanks to the 4QPI links per chip, the new part will be scalable to eight sockets. So that’s 64 physical cores, or 128 threads. We’re pretty sure the benefits for Crysis 2 drop off around 48 cores or so.
Intel is promising big performance gains over the previous generation of Xeons, with nine times the memory bandwidth of the old chips. The part seems aimed at holding back AMD’s Magny-Cours six-core server parts due out soon. One way or another, servers are about to get a lot faster.
It turns out that AMD is being downright sneaky about the launch of their next generation Magny-Cours server class CPUs. Some recent reports indicated that the 12-core chips, officially called the Opteron 6100 series, were shipping out to OEMs. AMD’s Product Manager for Server/Workstation John Fruehe finally came clean and admitted that the new server parts have been shipping since earlier in February. He also said that full scale production was underway, but no announcements were being made at this time.
This news certainly helps to explain where the set of Magny-Cours processors on eBay came from. AMD is most likely looking to get the new chips out the door to combat Intel’s anticipated 6-core Xeons. No official pricing for the Opteron 6100s has been announced, but the set on eBay is still listed for $7,700.
Ready or not, six-core computing is coming, and it's coming from both sides of the tracks. We all know about Intel's plan to move to six-core chips, which will start with the Core i7 980X, a pricey processor (think at least $1,000) designed for socket 1366 systems. Look for this one to debut around the end of March.
But AMD also has plans to compete in the six-core sector and, according to news and rumor site DigiTimes, will launch three six-core desktop chips under its new Phenom II x6 1000T series in May 2010. These will consist of the Phenom II X6 1075T, 1055T, and 1035T, each of which is being built on a 45nm manufacturing process.
Coinciding with AMD's six-core parts will be a couple of new chipsets, the 890FX (RD890) and 890GX (RS880D).
No official word on pricing from either side just yet.
Intel, who at some point in the not-too-distant future will show socket 1366 owners some love with a 6-core processor, just got through demonstrating a 48-core processor it hopes will usher in a new era of computing with PCs powerful enough to emulate human traits. Did we really say 48 cores? Excuse us while we change our underpants.
Before you soil yours as well, it's important to understand that the cores aren't barn burners likes today's desktop Core i7 chips are. Instead, the 1.3 billion transistor processor, called Single-chip Cloud Computer (SCC) is the successor generation to the 80-core "Polaris" processor and has more in common with a low end Atom part than a desktop Nehalem.
Unlike Polaris, however, Intel's 48-core chip can run the same standard software as Intel's x86 CPUs. And while each core doesn't pack a punch by itself, combining 48 of them makes it a pretty powerful chip.
"The machine will be capable of understanding the world around them much as humans do," Justin Rattner, Intel CTO, said at a press event. "They will see and hear and probably speak and do a number of other things that resemble human-like capabilities, and will demand as a result very (powerful) computing capability."
This isn't something you'll see on the desktop, but for you Folding fanatics, could you imagine pairing this chip with an upcoming Fermi graphics card or three? Oops, there goes another pair of briefs.
File this one under unconfirmed, but word on the web is that Intel plans to release a six-core Nehalem chip before the end of the year. Citing "sources close to Intel," Bit-tech says existing X58 motherboard owners should be able to drop the new chip into their motherboard with only a BIOS update, giving current Core i7 owners a tantalizing upgrade path to look forward to.
Not much else is known about the supposed six-core Nehalem, however those same sources did say the new chip won't fall into the Core i7 naming scheme. The name is still being worked out
Should this come to fruition, Intel would be the first to market with a six-core consumer desktop CPU. AMD earlier this month released a six-core part well ahead of schedule, but it's a server chip and not a desktop part. Intel also has an existing six-core processor in Xeon form, also intended for servers.
Intel this week said its Nehalem-EX processor, an 8-core beast of a chip, will go into production sometime later this year and start shipping in server systems by early 2010. Even better, each chip supports 16 threads, says Boy Davis, Intel's GM of the Server Platforms Marketing Group.
Already on-board is IBM, who is already developing a server based around Nehalem-EX. The server will hold eight processors, making use of 64 Nehalem-EX cores capable of handling 128 threads.
"We're very excited today to be the first to demonstrate Nehalem-EX," said Alex Yost, VP IBM BladeCenter.
In addition to more cores and threads, Nehalem-EX also ups the memory ante, doubling the capacity with up to 16 memory slots per processor socket.
In a press release issued yesterday, AMD laid out a few surprises in its server platform roadmap that the company says are "game-changing," and perhaps indicative of a new-look AMD focused on design without the burden of manufacturing. We have to admit we like what we're seeing, starting with the announcement that the new monolithic six-core Opteron, code named Istanbul, will be released this June months ahead of schedule. But that's only the beginning.
AMD also announced a new integrated memory controller technology, Direct Connect Architecture 2.0, which it says will support up to 12 cores initially, offer improved memory and I/O capabilities, near native virtualization performance, and a range of full-featured power bands that place a priority on low power consumption.
But wait, there's more! In 2010, AMD says it will ship the Opteron 6000 series for 2P and 4P servers. The Magny-Cours processors will come in 8-core and 12-core flavors debuting on the G34 socket and the Maranello platform. And then in 2011, AMD will introduce the Interlagos 12- and 16-core processor based on the Bulldozer core and built on a 32nm manufacturing process.
Here's hoping AMD will show this same aggressiveness on the desktop.