Intel will outline a major change in chip architecture at its developer forum in San Francisco on 23 August, we have learned.
CEO Paul Otellini plans to use his keynote speech to announce Intel's "next-generation architecture", which will arrive in the second half of 2006. The target date for its introduction coincides with the launch of previously announced processors that sources have said will use a common architecture based on power-friendly design principles.
Earlier this year, Otellini announced that Merom, Conroe and Woodcrest were the codenames for Intel's next generation of multi-core processors planned for late 2006, but he declined to discuss them in detail. For some time Intel has been expected to base this generation of processors on an architecture stemming from its Pentium M notebook processor, which puts power consumption ahead of speed.
The move appears to signal the end of the Netburst architecture, which has been the foundation of the Pentium 4 and Xeon chips for five years. That architecture was designed to let Intel steadily increase the clock speeds of its chips, but the advent of the 90-nanometer process and current leakage problems has put an end to the strategy. As clock speeds go up, more power is needed and more leaks out.
The Pentium M was designed to deliver top-notch performance while controlling the amount of power used to run the chip. Those design principles, combined with multiple processing cores on a single chip, will allow Merom, Conroe and Woodcrest to reach new performance heights without producing excessive heat.
Merom is a notebook chip, while Conroe is aimed at desktops and Woodcrest, servers. Chapman declined to comment when asked if the Merom generation of chips would be the first to use the new architecture, but several sources familiar with Intel's plans have identified these chips as the first. He also declined to discuss whether the chips will feature two processor cores or four.
More details about the next-generation architecture will be provided in a briefing for press and analysts following Otellini's keynote, said Rob Chapman, general manager for the forum.
Intel hosts the three-day IDF every six months to provide detailed information about upcoming products to the hardware engineers that design systems using Intel's chips. The company uses the show to announce major initiatives before an audience of press and analysts from around the world.