Intel plans to step up SpeedStep

— 10:41 AM on February 7, 2005

The power and heat problems caused by most modern processors is starting to get more attention inside Intel, and today the company announced a new power-saving technology that will go a step beyond the Enhanced SpeedStep capabilities already built into some of its CPUs. The EE Times report has the details. This tech, code-named Foxton, looks to be a finer-grained version of SpeedStep:

Foxton is a hardware-based technology that claims to dynamically and automatically adjust the voltage and frequency settings for a microprocessor — while also boosting overall system performance by up to 10 percent. Within Foxton, Intel has also incorporated a demand-based switching (DBS) technology, which is said to dynamically reduce processor power consumption based on demand and workload.

According to Intel (Santa Clara, Calif.), Foxton is said to automatically adjust the voltage in a processor in 12.5-miliwatt increments at 32 different settings. It can also modulate the frequency in a processor at 64 different increments.

Foxton tech will first show up in Intel's upcoming Itanium revision, dubbed Montecito, which is a 1.7 billion-transistor device. I suppose some extra cooling help might be in order there, huh?

I wonder about the claims of a 10 percent performance boost out of Foxton. Perhaps they are allowing for transitory bursts above the CPU's usual peak clock speed when demand spikes? Or perhaps they're just counting on getting a slightly better system heat and power picture overall? Hmm.

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