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Tuesday, February 05, 2008
Intel Details Tukwila and Silverthorne Processors

Intel offered a first look at technical details of its low-power Silverthorne as well as the high-performance quad-core Tukwila processors at the International Solid State Circuits Conference (ISSCC).

Tukwila Monster chip

Tukwila is a 65nm two-billion-transistor processor that will give supercomputers "a leap in performance and capabilities."

The world's largest maker of microprocessors says its new Itanium brand chip, built for supercomputers increases the power of machines more than twofold (vs Dual-core Itanium 9100 series) and will be available near the end of the year.

The Tukwila processor carries a 30MB on-die cache, operates at up to 2GHz, while the applied the 65nm manufacturing process allows it to offer a 2x performance and a TDP of 170W. The chip also takes advantage of the Quick path interconnection technology and integrates dual memory controllers.

"The quad-core chip is coupled with higher bandwidths and large caches to enable a doubling in performance of Tukwila over the current Intel Itanium 9100 series processor," the Santa Clara, California, company said.

Previously, the highest number of transistors packed into a computer chip was 1.7 billion in a two-core microprocessor, according to Intel.

The low-power Silverthorne

At the same event, Intel also gave the first technical presentation on Silverthorne, the first x86 chip designed by Intel specifically for portable devices such as UMPCs and MIDs.

Silverthorne is a 45nm processor that takes advantage of a new IA micro-architecture for low power operation, called "LPIA (Low Power Intel Architecture)".

Unlike other processors in Intel's current product line, Silverthorne uses an in-order processor design, akin to a factory with a single assembly line capable of processing one operation at a time, in order to offer the best balance between performance and power efficiency. However, the Hyperthreading technology will be there to allow the processor to work on two instruction threads at the same time.

The single-core chip will run at 2GHz, carries a 512KB L2 cache and uses a 533MHz front-side bus. Compared with Intel's Penryn (45nm) processors, Silverthorne carries approximately the 1/9 of the transistors (47,000,000), while its die size is just 25 mm2 (107mm2 for Penryn).

The performance of the new chips will be roughly equivalent to the Pentium M processors found in the first version of Centrino. Silverthorne chips are expected to consumes less than 1W to 2W.

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