Intel confirms Q4 'Nehalem' launch

The initial version of the Penryn successor will go to production in the final quarter of 2008, a company executive notes, amidst updates on upcoming products.

The second generation of processors based on 45-nanometer technology, code-named Nehalem, is on track to launch by year-end, an Intel executive reiterated Tuesday.

According to Stephen Smith, Intel's vice president and director of digital enterprise group operations, the "initial version" of the Nehalem processors are expected to go to production from fourth-quarter 2008.

The new processors, which can scale from two to eight cores, is partly based on the Core architecture announced in 2006 but also contains new features, said Ronak Singhal, principal engineer of digital enterprise group. These include simultaneous multi-threading, a three-level cache hierarchy, integrated memory controller designed to improve power efficiency and performance.

Nehalem, at present, is used to represent both the new architecture as well as the family of processors.

Describing the new Nehalem architecture as a "ground-up new design for 45-nm technology", Smith said in a telephone briefing that compared to Intel's first 45-nm processor codenamed Penryn, Nehalem faced "fewer" design constraints".

"The amount of change was modest in Penryn," said Smith. Nehalem, on the hand, realized the "tock" of Intel's "tick-tock" strategy, which seeks to adopt manufacturing processes to shrink chip sizes in odd-numbered years, and roll out new chip architectures in even-numbered years.

During the briefing Smith also touched on the Larrabee, Intel's visual computing architecture scheduled for 2009 or 2010. Intel has, Smith noted, extended the traditional x86 set of instructions to include vector processing instructions to improve the performance of graphics-heavy applications.

Along the same vein, the 32nm-based chip architecture, codenamed Sandy Bridge will incorporate Advanced Vector Extension, a new set of instructions to boost high-performance computing via 256-bit vectors instead of 128-bit.

Smith also provided technical updates on two other processors, Tukwila and the six-core Dunnington. Both are due out by year-end.