Details of Intel CSI "QuickPath" released

Three weeks before Intel's fall IDF (Intel Developer Forum), analyst David Kanter of Real World Technologies has compiled and released a detailed paper of Intel's next CPU memory architecture called CSI (Common System Interconnect).  CSI (which Intel will market under the name "QuickPath") is the memory architecture that the second generation 45nm CPU "Nehalem" being released late next year.

Three weeks before Intel's fall IDF (Intel Developer Forum), analyst David Kanter of Real World Technologies has compiled and released a detailed paper of Intel's next CPU memory architecture called CSI (Common System Interconnect).  CSI (which Intel will market under the name "QuickPath") is the memory architecture that the second generation 45nm CPU "Nehalem" being released late next year.

CSI along with a new IMC (Integrated Memory Controller) in Intel's Nehalem processor will allow Intel to scale multiple CPU sockets and HPC (High Performance Computing) applications.  Intel's current Core 2 CPU architecture has strategically forsaken CSI and an IMC and Intel prioritized their transistor budget on a superior execution engine and cache architecture which allows them to dominate single-threaded applications (which are extremely common in desktop applications and games).  The lack of CSI and an IMC cuts in to Intel's performance lead on dual-socket server platforms and keeps them out of the HPC space where memory bandwidth is critical.

Those familiar with AMD's memory architecture will see that Intel is adopting AMD's strategy with CSI and Integrated Memory Controllers, but AMD is also adopting Intel's strategy on more cache and faster execution engines for their Bulldozer platform.  Both companies are moving to adopt the other's architectural advantages and it will be interesting to see who gets there first in 2008 or 2009.

David Kanter issued the following executive summary:

In 2008/9, Intel is expected to introduce the Common System Interface (CSI), a new system architecture for their microprocessors.  CSI will replace the existing front-side bus and can be compared to AMD's HyperTransport.  This report describes CSI, specifically: 

  • How CSI works
  • Why CSI is expected to outperform HyperTransport
  • How Intel may deploy CSI across server, notebook and desktop systems
  • The implications of CSI for Intel and the industry as a whole

Since 2003, AMD and Intel have been fiercely competing in the x86 microprocessor market, especially the high stakes server world.  In 2004, AMD quickly gained market share with its Opteron processor, which capitalized on HyperTransport's superior system architecture and Intel's simultaneously weak product line.  However, Intel has always performed best under pressure, and in 2006 responded with the popular Core 2 Duo.

The Core 2 Duo was a tremendous step forward for Intel, and has put significant pressure on AMD, especially in the server market.  However, Intel is still relying on a system architecture which lags AMD's HyperTransport in critical performance areas.

A report from David Kanter of Real World Technologies, details the Common System Interface (CSI), Intel's future processor interconnect.  CSI is a family of interconnects that will transform Intel's entire high performance product line.  This report explains how CSI works and why it will likely achieve lower latency and higher bandwidth than AMD's HyperTransport.  The report also describes how Intel will deploy CSI in server, notebook and desktop systems and the implications for the overall computer industry.