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Massive Intel mobile, desktop roadmaps massively leaked

Scott Wasson
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Somehow, the folks at PC Watch in Japan have gotten their hands on what appear to be some very large and very detailed Intel roadmaps, along with product branding decoder info for both mobile and desktop processors. Making sense of it all may take some time, so I’d encourage you to look over the images yourself, if you want to get the whole scoop.

The desktop roadmap extends into 2011 and shows how a range of Nehalem-derived chips with different capabilities will be mixed into products in various price segments, power envelopes, and clock speed bands. Of immediate interest to enthusiasts are the Lynnfield-based parts expected later this quarter, with clock speeds ranging from 2.93GHz to 3.6GHz within a 95W TDP. The parameters of those products are already known, or at least very widely rumored: 45nm, four cores, eight hardware threads, two channels of DDR3-1333 memory, built-in PCIe x16, and an aggressive Turbo Boost opportunistic clock speed scaling capability.

Further out, the high end will get a new Extreme Edition part based on the six-core Gulftown chip in the second quarter of next year. Clock speeds aren’t listed, but the chart says Gulftown will have 12MB of L3 cache and, despite its 32nm fab process, a considerable 130W TDP. Other reports have said Gulftown will work as a drop-in upgrade for current Core i7 systems (of the LGA1366 variety).

If you thought your head was spinning after looking at that first image, the desktop CPU branding table will bring more clarity, but since this is a branding and feature chart for the incredibly flexible and modular Nehalem-based processors, it may also bring a spike in global demand for Excedrin. The clarity here comes from a plausible explication of Intel’s naming and brand segmentation strategy for its Nehalem-derived CPUs.

At the heart of the scheme is a BMW-esque trio of Core i3, Core i5, and Core i7 models. The Core i7 name will encompass current Bloomfield and future Lynnfield and Gulftown processors with all of their cores and capabilities enabled, including Hyper-Threading (dual threads per core) and Turbo Boost. This name spans two socket types, today’s LGA1366 and the upcoming LGA1156.

Core i5, meanwhile, will refer to Lynnfield chips with quad cores, no Hyper-Threading, and Turbo Boost intact. Simple, right? In the first quarter of 2010, though, some Core i5 products will migrate to the 32nm Clarkdale chips, where they will miraculously have their HT and Turbo features restored, at the cost of two cores and a move to half-sized L2 (512KB) and L3 (4MB) caches. (We say "chips" with reference to Clarkdale because it will be a dual-die package that includes a 32nm CPU and a 45nm graphics processor/memory controller chip.) These newer dual-core Core i5 models will support the same number of hardware threads as the quad-core/no-HT originals, giving them a sort of superficial equivalence to their predecessors.

The Core i3 series and some future chips tagged with the Pentium name will be based on the dual-core Clarkdale, as well. Although the Core i3 will have Hyper-Threading, it will shed Turbo Boost and have only partial support for hardware virtualization extensions (VT-x but not VT-d). Clarkdale-based Pentiums will lose HT and drop to 3MB of L3 cache, as well. (Intel is also monkeying with what memory speeds are supported, but I’m trying to summarize here.

The Core i3, i5, and the Clarkdale Pentiums will all drop into LGA1156-type sockets, at least initially. This diagram shows the LGA1155 socket type launching in early 2011 and taking the lion’s share of the desktop market in the second half of that year.

The mobile version of Clarkdale, dubbed Arrandale, will dominate Intel’s mobile processor lineup upon its introduction in early 2010, taking over for today’s Penryn dual cores across a swath of mainstream and value segments, ranging from 10W to 35W, under the Core i7 and Core i5 names. The transition to Nehalem will happen a little earlier in the performance mobile space, where Clarkdale-based Core i7 products will take over in the fourth quarter of ’09.

The mobile branding for Nehalem (and Westmere, the proper name for its 32nm derivative) will be a little more sensible than the desktop equivalent, since features like Hyper-Threading, Turbo Boost, SpeedStep, and virtualization are not on the list of possible cuts; all mobile products are slated to include these capabilities, according to the PC Watch table.

You may wish to read a translated version of the full PC Watch article for more info.