Intel’s Gelsinger reveals new Penryn details

We’ve known for a while the basic outlines of Intel’s plans for future processors built on its upcoming 45nm fab process technology, but Intel exec Pat Gelsinger filled in more of the picture in a press conference today. Chief among the revelations were some reasons why the 45nm Penryn chips are, Gelsinger said, “not just a simple die shrink,” and more specifics about Nehalem, the chip based on the next-generation microarchitecture that will follow Penryn.

Here are Penryn’s key characteristics, some of which we’ve known about and some of which were just revealed or officially confirmed today.

  • A 45nm die shrink of the Core microarchitecture — Penryn will be based on the Core architecture of current Core 2 processors, but will be built using Intel’s 45nm high-K process, which Gelsinger reminded us involves a “fundamental restructuring of the transistor,” with 20% faster switching and 30% lower power. Like the Core 2, Penryn chips will have two cores onboard and will be employed in dual-chip packages for quad-core products. Each Penryn chip will cram 410 million transistors into a 107mm² die; current Core 2 chips pack 291 million transistors into 143mm².
  • 6MB of L2 cache per chip — Credit larger caches for much of Penryn’s increased transistor count. The chips will have 6MB of L2 cache, shared between two cores. Naturally, dual-chip quad-core configurations will have a total of 12MB of L2 cache.
  • SSE4 and “Super Shuffle Engine” — We’ve already reported on the 50 new instructions of SSE4, and Penryn will support them, as expected. We learned today that Penryn will have the ability to perform 128-bit data shuffle operations in a single cycle. Gelsinger said this fast shuffle capability should make SSE4 much more programmable and more useful for compiled code, because the CPU will quickly handle realigning data as needed for vector execution.
  • A faster divider — Penryn will be faster clock-for-clock than current Core 2 processors, and not just because of larger caches and SSE4. The CPU has a new, faster divider that can process four bits per clock versus the two bits per clock of current Conroe chips. Accordingly, Gelsinger expects twice the divide performance of Core 2 Duo and up to four times the performance for square-root operations.
  • Bus speeds up to 1600MHz — We’ll see front-side bus speeds in Penryn derivatives of up to 1.6GHz, depending on the market segment. Gelsinger offered few specifics here, only noting that Xeon server CPUs will have bus speeds of “up to 1600MHz,” with no mention of specific bus frequencies for desktop or mobile chips.
  • A new lower power state — Penryn will be able to drop into an additional low-power state when idle, which Intel has designated as the C6 state (or “deep power down capability,” if you’re into marketing names). This mode turns off CPU clocks, disables caches, and goes to what Gelsinger said is the lowest power state the process technology allows. Waking from this mode takes longer than it does from other power states, as one might expect.
  • Dynamic Acceleration Tech — Penryn will also play with power by introducing a novel dynamic clock speed scaling ability. When one CPU core is busy while the other is idle, thus not requiring much power or producing much heat, Penryn will take advantage. The chip will boost the clock speed of the busy core to a higher-than-stock frequency—while staying within its established thermal envelope.
  • A split-load cache — Gelsinger said this will allow speculative execution across cache line boundaries, but offered little additional detail.
  • Improved virtualization — No details here, although I believe they may have been disclosed before.
  • Clock speeds over 3GHz and bitchin’ performance — Intel expects both the desktop and server versions of Penryn to reach clock speeds in excess of 3GHz, and in fact has been testing 3.2GHz versions of desktop and server chips already.


    Gelsinger said they’d measured a 3.2GHz desktop part at 20% higher gaming performance than the current fastest Conroe. For applications that use SSE4, like media encoding, we can expect to see improvements of over 40%.


    As for the server parts, Gelsinger said a 3.2GHz quad-core Penryn-derived system based on the Caneland platform with a 1600MHz front-side bus was achieving over 45% gains versus today’s fastest quad-core Xeon systems in certain apps. The apps he cited were bandwidth and floating-point-intensive ones like Stream, some sub-elements of SPECfp, and HP workloads like computational fluid dynamics.

  • Familiar power envelopes — Dual-core desktop versions of Penryn are slated to have a 65W TDP rating, like most Core 2 Duos today. The quad-core versions will come with 95W and 130W TDPs. The Xeon variants will hit 40, 65, and 80W TDP targets in dual-core form and 50, 80, and 120W in quad-core form. Gelsinger didn’t quote any thermal envelopes for mobile CPUs from this family, but there are evidently no plans for a quad-core mobile version of this processor.

Gelsinger said the entire family of Penryn-derived products is still on track to be in production this year, and Intel still expects to launch the first products from this family in the server segment in 2007. We’ll cover today’s revelations about the next-generation Nehalem architecture in a separate post shortly.

Comments closed
    • IntelMole
    • 13 years ago

    Dynamic Acceleration is probably the most interesting thing there. Contrary to what you’d think, it should actually save power here overall. It’s basically the chip saying “I really b[

    • crazybus
    • 13 years ago

    I wonder how the dynamic overclocking will affect benchmarking?

      • Shintai
      • 13 years ago

      If singlethreaded, then yes. You could have a situation say, with a 3Ghz running at 1×3.5Ghz single and 2x3Ghz dual. Would abit wrongly show it scales worse, but on the other hand perform exceptional well in some singlethreaded app.

      But it also sounds like its an OCs worse nightmare. Need to Orthox both single core individually and 2 cores together. And a quadcore …uff!

        • Flying Fox
        • 13 years ago

        Penryn is supposed to be the codename for the mobile core? I thought Wolfdale is the desktop equivalent? I am guessing this feature may be a highlight for mobile processors? Not sure if this will be activated (or implemented) on desktop chips…

          • Shintai
          • 13 years ago

          Its is. But so was it with C2D..it was Merom all the way before we saw a demo with a conroe. Mobiles always get the project name for some reason. Nehalem is the mobile aswell with bloomsfield etc as the other products.

      • Krogoth
      • 13 years ago

      I suspect that “idiot’s overclocking tool” can be disabled in the BIOS on enthusiast-class boards. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Spyder22446688
    • 13 years ago

    What are the chances that any of this new tech will be available for purchase below $300 by mid-July?

      • Shintai
      • 13 years ago

      None if they aint out. If they are, plenty.

        • Spyder22446688
        • 13 years ago

        Yes, and I was asking if they would be out. Um, duh?

          • Shintai
          • 13 years ago

          Nobody knows yet..cept Intel..most likely Q4.

      • Proesterchen
      • 13 years ago

      __ Zero. __

    • continuum
    • 13 years ago

    I’m waiting for quad-core Core 2 chips to get cheap enough to justify stuffing into my P965 chipset board for the OGR performance increase.

    THEN I’ll worry about dumping money into a new MB with a new chipset and a 45nm chip… =D

    • melvz90
    • 13 years ago

    AMD will surely pi$$ on their pants now…

    • ScythedBlade
    • 13 years ago

    … god damn … the penryn is turning more to just a shrink … its like friken half architecture update …. god damn … it doesn’t seem like barcelona will slaughter penryn yet. …

    • DASQ
    • 13 years ago

    Heh. Bitchin’ performance.

      • roadrunner
      • 13 years ago

      Wonder if thats a direct quote from Intel ๐Ÿ˜‰

      • Flying Fox
      • 13 years ago

      That’s why “Kicking Pat” always puts out colourful presentations. Would he continue like that once (and if) he takes over as CEO?

    • Krogoth
    • 13 years ago

    Yawns, Penyrn is just the existing Conroe design on steroids.

    I am more interested on what Nehalem has to offer.

      • SPOOFE
      • 13 years ago

      Penryn is just a process shrink with a few tweaks, isn’t it? Nehalem is the Core 3, or whatever it’ll be called?

        • Krogoth
        • 13 years ago

        I suspect the tweaks were done in anticipation of K10. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Shintai
    • 13 years ago

    My only wish is lower TDPs…

      • MixedPower
      • 13 years ago

      I don’t mind 65W. That ain’t nothin’ compared to modern GPUs. Let’s hope nvidia and ATI move to 55nm ASAP.

        • Shintai
        • 13 years ago

        I had hoped abit more on 50-55W and maybe remove a 4Ghz dualcore down to 3.5-3.7Ghz.

      • Krogoth
      • 13 years ago

      I suspect it is going to be about the same as existing Conroe design, but higher performance per clock.

    • MrJP
    • 13 years ago

    Here’s hoping AMD can stay at least a little bit competitive with their new releases so that we can get all this at the same crazy prices as today’s cheap dual cores. Competition is a good thing.

      • ew
      • 13 years ago

      Agreed. Having two strong CPU manufacturers is great for us consumers.

        • green
        • 13 years ago

        you need more than two
        otherwise the dominant one will gouge customers with higher prices while waiting for the compeititor to catch-up so they can build a ‘war-chest’ of cash before slugging it out in the next round

        *[

          • Shintai
          • 13 years ago

          Oh ye, clicking between 8 and 33Mhz etc. Was a nice feature when games didnยดt have a time control.

          • SPOOFE
          • 13 years ago

          Maybe it’s just me, but I’m getting tired of the whole “competition is a good thing” popping up. Not that I disagree or think that it’s an inaccurate statement…. I just think it’s about as useful as commenting just to say “the sky is blue”.

          Remember: It was competition – in a sense – that gave us Netburst.

            • IntelMole
            • 13 years ago

            That was marketing, but I see your point.

    • roadrunner
    • 13 years ago

    Wow…built in, auto-overclocking.

    Cool.

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