RealTime IT News

Intel Preps For Multi-Core Evolution

Intel is polishing up its silicon in anticipation of its semi-annual Developers Forum next week.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based chip making giant is about to kick off its fall classic with a focus on "threading" (parallelism) as its core technology for future server and desktop processors.

As previously reported, Intel is shying away from its mass-marketed Hyper-Threading technology in favor of a multi-tier processor strategy. During the week, Intel is expected to show off its latest batch of dual-core Itanium, Xeon, Pentium and even Pentium M processors.

During a press junket on Wednesday, Pat Gelsinger, senior vice president and chief technology officer, told reporters that Intel's strategy for multi-core processors is just as strong if not stronger than comparable products from its chief rival AMD . While he acknowledged AMD's designs were "interesting" he reaffirmed that Intel has been planning its multi-layered, multi-platform portfolio for sometime as well.

When asked about AMD's demonstration of its first dual core server processor this week, Gelsinger said Intel's position was certainly not "a reactive thing, but a strategy of how we are doing things."

The "multi-" theme is also being extended to the overall designs of the network such as replacing your current system with multi-core chips to bringing it into to the digital home and office.

"When we talk about the 'digital office', we are talking about interoperability that is drastically separate from the 'digital home,'" Gelsinger said. "In the digital office, most of the devices are networked but we are managing those networks and how do we secure those networks and then what are the applications that are well linked."

The chipmaker giant is also expected to highlight the various additions to what the company is referring to as its *T family: Intel Hyper Threading Technology; (HT); LaGrande Technology (Security, LT); Vanderpool and Silvervale Technology (Virtualization, VT/ST) Intel Centrino Mobile Technology (CMT); and Extended Memory 64 Technology (EM64T). Each technology is designed to work together or individually to augment Intel's 90-nm and future processor families.

Gordon Haff, a market analyst with research firm Illuminata, notes Intel's biggest challenges are not so much of the micro scale, but with the macro ones -- the mass of evolving devices away from the traditional Intel desktop PC volume sweet spot where gigahertz churn has filled Intel coffers for years.

"The proliferation of many different types of client devices that are less CPU horsepower-centric (and often far more cost sensitive) will be a challenge for Intel given that the new technologies and partner ecosystems involved," Haff told internetnews.com. "There's still enormous -- even growing -- demand for silicon in all shapes and sizes. And Intel's proven both adaptable and willing to 'stay the course' on new technologies and strategies. We note, for example, that Intel's Flash Memory efforts are starting to contribute to its bottom line."

Jim McGregor, a principal analyst with research firm In-Stat/MDR, told internetnews.com that Intel has the money and the time to continue its forays into projects like communications, which is losing money for them now but will probably pay off for them in the end.

"If you look at the roadmaps for advanced TCA (next generation systems architecture for the communications infrastructure) and WiMAX, they have very similar schedules," McGregor said. "That may be coincidental, until you realize that each venue was planned by the government months in advance."

During the three-day event, a new Serial ATA storage industry group is expected to talk about its plan to organize system builders, vendors, chip designers and computer technology designers under one roof and foster the quality and growth of Serial ATA technology. Intel is also holding a roundtable to discuss evolving technologies, including FB DIMM, DDR 3 and Flash.

Intel is also slated to discuss 90nm silicon integration and communications modularization; Interconnect strategies, including WiMAX, fiber, DSL -- ingredients to create one ubiquitous server network.

Developers should expect announcements related to Ultra-Wideband, Wireless USB and a program whose supercomputing announcement aimed at space exploration.