Intel to boost single-core performance

Company plans to increase the performance of individual cores in the Itanium processor, says a principal engineer at Intel.

Intel plans to increase the performance of individual cores in the Itanium processor, and not just increase the number of cores to it, says an Intel engineer.

Speaking at the Gelato Itanium Conference and Expo held in Singapore on Tuesday, Cameron McNairy, principal engineer of Itanium Processor Architect at Intel, said: "We have not abandoned single-core performance and we're looking to increase that with each generation (of the Itanium processor) as we go forward, some with greater transitions than others."

Referring to the generation move from Itanium 2 9M to dual-core Itanium 2, McNairy said: "We made several changes, even though the core was essentially the same."

Citing examples of the changes, he added: "We separated the instruction cache from the data cache, simplified some of the conflicts in the data cache, (and) increased core resources."

The Itanium 2 9M chip, which debuted in November 2004, is an upgraded member of the Madison line. Dubbed Madison 9M, the 130-nanometer processor features high-speed cache memory from 6MB to 9MB.

The Dual-Core Itanium 2 chip, also known as Montecito, was launched in July last year. The processor was built on a manufacturing process with circuitry dimensions of 90nm and has two processor cores.

McNairy said improvements in "the single-stream performance" of a core processor can be expected in the next transition from Montecito to Tukwila.

He said Intel will also be looking to increase the efficiency of its multithreading technology, also known as hyperthreading technology, but declined to reveal further details.

While increasing the strength of individual cores of the processor is "intended to increase performance," McNairy noted, this may not apply to all workloads.

"There are some workloads that you just need to have single-core performance in order to carry and to get the job done, and those are the kinds of things we are targeting," he said. "Not everything can scale and, truth be told, if you don't address the single-core performance segment, you're going to miss out on some opportunities."

According to Intel, Montecito's successor, Montvale, will be launched later this year. The Tukwila chip is expected to arrive within the timeframe of 2008 to 2009, while Poulson is expected sometime between 2010 and 2011.

Lynn Tan of ZDNet Asia reported from Singapore.

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