No sooner had I posted a story on upcoming six-core processors than Intel held a press conference to discuss its Westmere six-core processor--among other products--in more detail. The purpose of the briefing was to preview the papers that Intel will present at a major semiconductor conference, known as ISSCC 2010, which takes place next week in San Francisco.
Here are some additional details on the six-core chip that Intel has confirmed:
The six-core version of Westmere will be available in both desktop (Gulftown) and dual-socket server versions. Not surprisingly, it shares a lot of the same features with the dual-core Core i3 and Core i5 Westmeres including Hyper-Threading (12 threads for a six-core chip), Turbo Boost for improved performance on tasks that are not multi-threaded, an integrated memory controller, and features designed to make it more power-efficient.
But there are some differences too. Gulftown does not have a graphics controller in the same package, which makes sense given that it is designed for enthusiast desktops and will be paired with discrete graphics. It also has a larger data cache--a total of 12MB of L3 compared with 4MB on the dual-core versions--which when combined with the extra cores results in a chip that is larger and contains 1.17 billion transistors. Intel said it uses some of those extra transistors to speed up tasks such as data encryption and decryption.
Here's how the six-core chip will look in a dual-socket server, meaning one that uses two of these processors:
And here's a slide showing how the actual chip compares to the dual-core version currently available in mainstream laptops and desktops: