IDF: Intel leaps ahead with new chip

At its Intel Developer Forum in Beijing this week, chipmaker unveils Penryn performance benchmarks and a new high-performance computing platform, dubbed "Larrabee".

BEIJING--Intel's new family of Penryn processors based on the 45-nanometer manufacturing process will speed up enterprise and multimedia computing, company officials tout.

Speaking on Tuesday at the Intel Developer Forum (IDF) held here, Pat Gelsinger, Intel's senior vice president and general manager of digital enterprise group, noted that with Penryn-based processors, enterprises can expect over 25 percent performance improvement for Java applications and more than 45 percent higher performance for bandwidth-intensive high-performance computing applications.

These indicators were based on comparisons between pre-production 45-nanometer Intel Xeon processors with 1,600MHz front side bus for workstation and HPC (high-performance computer) and a 1,333MHz front side bus for servers, and existing quad-core Intel Xeon X5355 processors, according to Intel.

For desktop PCs, Gelsinger said consumers can expect performance improvements of about 15 percent for imaging-related applications, 25 percent for 3D rendering and more than 40 percent for games, and above 40 percent increase in encoding speed with Intel SSE4 optimized video encoders.

Penryn is Intel's next-generation processor based on its Core Microarchitecture, and is available in dual-core and quad-core configurations across the company's server, desktop and mobile processor portfolios.

According to Gelsinger, Penryn is also the world's first processor built with a 45-nanometer manufacturing process that allows chipmakers to cut out more processors from a piece of silicon wafer, while improving energy efficiency.

The company also has plans for Intel QuickAssist Technology, which is an initiative to optimize the use of accelerators in servers. Accelerators are processor features that increase the performance of a single function, such as security encryption or financial computation, and at the same time reduce power consumption.

Intel's QuickAssist initiative, similar to rival AMD's Torrenza program, includes support for acceleration on IA (Intel Architecture)-based multicore processors as well as third-party accelerators running on Intel-based servers, and for developing new integrated accelerators inside IA-based processors.

Gelsinger also unveiled Intel's "Tolapai" plans--the first in what will be a family of enterprise-class "system-on-a-chip" products that integrate several key system components, such as the input/output and memory control hub, into a single IA-based processor.

Available in 2008, the "Tolapai" product is expected to reduce the size of a chip by up to 45 percent and power consumption by about 20 percent, while improving throughput performance and processor efficiency. Tolapai will also include the new Intel QuickAssist Integrated Accelerator technology.

At the IDF, Gelsinger further outlined other product plans including Intel's high-end multiprocessor server platform, codenamed "Caneland", which will comprise the quad- and dual-core Intel Xeon processor 7300 series. Slated to make their debut in the third-quarter this year, in 80-watt and 50-watt versions for blades, the new servers will complete the company's transition to its Intel Core Microarchitecture for Xeon processors.

In the realm of high-performance computing, Gelsinger added that Intel has begun planning multicore processors based on a highly-parallel, IA-based programmable architecture--codenamed "Larrabee". He noted that this platform will be easily programmable using several existing software tools, and designed to scale to trillions of floating point operations per second (teraflops) of performance.

The Larrabee architecture will include enhancements to accelerate various applications, such as scientific computing, financial analytics and healthcare applications.

In the second half of this year, Intel will also introduce the next-generation Intel vPro processor technology, codenamed "Weybridge", which will use the new Intel 3 series chipset family. According to Gelsinger, this next iteration of vPro will include enhancements to virtualization and ease of deployment.

The announcement follows recent plans by Intel to port the vPro desktop PC management technologies onto notebooks.

Aaron Tan of ZDNet Asia reported from the Intel Developer Forum in Beijing, China.