Intel prepares new architecture refresh strategy

X-bit labs has some interesting information on plans for new microarchitectures beyond Core that Intel revealed in a shareholder conference last week. According to presentation slides, Intel plans to introduce a new architecture every two years: Nehalem will succeed Core in 2008, and Gesher will follow the two in 2010. Those new architectures will be built for power efficiency, and will be unified across the desktop, mobile, and server spaces. This is a radically new strategy for Intel considering it has ridden the Pentium 4's Netburst architecture for five and a half years; even the current Core Duo mobile chips are technically derived from the P6 architecture introduced with the Pentium Pro in 1995.

In order to cut the architecture release cycle from five or eleven years to just two, Intel plans to have parallel engineering teams working simultaneously on new chip designs. The introduction of new process technologies will also be offset one year from the introduction of new architectures to decrease waiting time. Consequently, Intel will switch to 45nm in 2007 with a Core derivative called Penryn, and carry over the same process technology for the Nehalem launch one year later. In 2009, the introduction of the 32nm process should also happen with the Nehalem-C derivative, paving the way for the release of the new Gesher architecture in 2010.

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