Intel has been quite quiet on the next-generation front over the past few months, but finally some more details on the upcoming Penryn family of CPUs have seeped out.
According to HKEPC, the dual-core desktop Wolfdale processor has around 410 million transistors, while the dual-dual-core Yorkfield chip obviously doubles this to 820 million transistors as Yorkfield’s relationship with Wolfdale is the same as Kentsfield’s relationship with Conroe. Compared to Conroe, Wolfdale has around 40 percent more transistors, so let’s have a look at what is causing the increased transistor count.
Intel has enhanced the five key elements that make up the Core micro-architecture – Wide Dynamic Execution, Advanced Smart Cache, Smart Memory Access, Advanced Digital Media Boost, and Intelligent Power Capability.
Penryn’s Wide Dynamic Execution includes improved Virtualisation performance that is largely thanks to improved transition latencies. Additionally, Intel has implemented a fast radix-16 divider, which means that the chip can process four bits per clock cycle instead of the two bits per clock cycle that Conroe can execute.
The cache latencies have been reduced in addition to increasing cache sizes by 50 percent, meaning you’ll see up to 6MB and 12MB of L2 cache on dual- and quad-core Penryn-based processors – this is up from 4MB and 8MB on current Core 2 processors and is a large portion of the increased transistor count. The Advanced Digital Media Boost enhancements come in the form of the new SSE4 instruction set, which includes 50 new instructions designed to optimise media, gaming and graphics performance.
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The first chip to be released will be a new flagship Core 2 Extreme quad-core processor, which is apparently scheduled for the latter part of this year, while lower-end 45nm dual- and quad-core processors will follow in the first half of 2008.
All Wolfdale and Yorkfield processors will utilise a 1333MHz front side bus, with actual clock speeds at the high end breaking through 3GHz – I guess we can expect the flagship Core 2 Extreme processor to hit 3.33GHz, or maybe even higher. As a result of the increased clock speeds, there will be very little reduction in thermal design power (TDP), so we’ll still see chips fall into the 130W, 95W and 65W power envelopes on the desktop.
HKEPC managed to get its hands on one of the lower-end Wolfdale chips, which was clocked at 2.33GHz, and ran it through a gamut of application benchmarks
. It was compared to a Core 2 Duo E6550, which is clocked at the same speed, and the Wolfdale turned out to be around 10 percent faster over the course of the range of tests used.
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