Intel Unveils 'Penryn' - 45nm Next Generation Core 2 Duo Processors
"Just as AMD thought they were closing the gap with the 65nm process, Intel advance ahead with 45nm. Due for production in the second half of 2007 lets take a closer look..."
Author: Mr. Smith
Intel recently demonstrated five working systems, borrowed from its own qualification labs, running 45 nm CPUs of different flavors, including a laptop. Another pair of systems represented typical desktop PCs, including a dual-core and a quad-core system. Two additional dual-socket, workstation-class systems were also on show, including a dual-socket system with two quad-core CPUs.
45nm Quad Core @ 1.86GHz running Rainbow 6 Las Vegas
Penryn based Laptop
Intel Senior Fellow Mark Bohr discussed technical details of the new 45 nm process, in particular talking about the company's "high-k plus metal gate" technology. Bohr stated unequivocally that he believes Intel has a substantial lead in high-k plus metal gate, suggesting that competitors won't be able to implement the technology until the 32 nm generation. Later, Intel CEO Paul Otellini arrived for a brief Q&A. When asked by a reporter about AMD's recent claims that their Barcelona quad-core CPU would outperform Intel's next-generation quad core, Otellini's response was, "I'm quite comfortable we'll maintain a performance lead." 45nm Process
Mark Bohr delved into some detail on Intel's 45 nm process, focusing on the high-k plus metal gate technology in particular. In his presentation, Bohr suggested that high-k/metal gate transistors are the biggest advancement in transistor technology since the introduction of polysilicon gate MOS transistors in the late 1960's. Bohr took great pains to note that the announcement of high-k plus metal gate is not a research announcement. Working 45 nm processors using the new technology have been manufactured, and Intel is on track to deliver 45 nm CPU products in the second half of 2007 that implement high-k/metal gate technology. The key benefit to this technology is substantial reduction in leakage power. Relatively high levels of leakage were the key culprit for high thermal output of the Prescott generation of Pentium 4 and Pentium dual-core CPUs. Solving the leakage problem allows either higher clock frequencies in the same thermal envelope or lower power usage while maintaining today's CPU performance levels.
The higher-density 45 nm process will deliver additional features, including a 2x increase in transistor density, a 30% reduction in transistor switching power, a 5x reduction in source-drain leakage power, and a 10x reduction in gate oxide leakage. Bohr pointed out that these performance and leakage gains couldn't be achieved without the high-k/metal gate technology.
High k/metal gate technology isn't something new to Intel. The company first announced its research into the technology back in 2003, and presented a 119 mm² SRAM chip with over a billion transistors in 2006. The recent announcement focused on the fact that Intel has been successful in integrating high k plus metal gate into the volume manufacturing process for 45nm.Penryn Details
Given those caveats, Smith's part of the presentation unveiled a few details of upcoming Penryn products. The dual-core version of Penryn consists of 410 million transistors, though die sizes weren't revealed. As you can see from the die photo, a good chunk of the die is cache, and Intel representatives noted that the shared L2 cache for Penryn would be substantially larger than the L2 on Core 2 products.
The quad-core version will be similar to the current Intel Core 2 quad series, and will consist of two dies in a multi-chip package. Overall transistor count will be 820 million, but that's simply the sum of transistor counts of the two separate dies.
Penryn will also implement the new SSE4 instructions. Intel believes that SSE4 will be the biggest change in the x86 instruction set in five years, with optimizations for multimedia and high-performance computing applications. Penryn will be capable of running at higher clock rates within the same thermal envelope of current Core 2 CPUs. The systems demonstrated were all running at clock frequencies in the 2GHz range, but these don't represent shipping clock rates, which should be substantially higher at product launch. All the systems were running either Windows Vista or Windows Server 2003 and were running real applications. We even had a chance to sit down briefly at the quad-core desktop system and run through a little Rainbow Six: Las Vegas session. In the lab, Intel has been successfully running Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2003, Linux, and Mac OSX, and a number of qualification systems are running tests to ensure software compatibility and reliability at Intel's labs in Folsom, California.
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