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Intel release eco-friendly, high-performance 45nm processors

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November 12, 2007

Processors on an Intel 45nm Hafnium-based High-k Metal Gate ''Penryn'' Wafer photographed ...

Processors on an Intel 45nm Hafnium-based High-k Metal Gate ''Penryn'' Wafer photographed with a penny

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November 13, 2007 Intel has unveiled sixteen new chips incorporating 45nm Hafnium-based high-k metal gate transistors that are smaller, faster and more eco-friendly than previous generations. Gordon E. Moore, co-founder of Intel, has labeled the breakthrough as the biggest transistor advancement in 40 years with the improvement expected to further extend Moore’s Law, which he originally described in 1965.

Moore’s Law stated that the number of transistors on an integrated circuit would double every year, for at least ten years. Although he modified it in the 1970s to make it more modest, his original scribbled graph charted the course of technology remarkably accurately for the following five decades, and continues to (approximately) do so today.

The new processors incorporate 420 million transistors for each dual core chip and 840 million transistors for each quad core chip - nearly double the transistor density of previous models. The Intel Core 2 Extreme and Xeon processors are also the first to be manufactured on the 45 nanometer scale, further boosting performance and lowering power consumption.

The company expects to produce billion-transistor processors by 2010.

One factor that threatened to severely curtail the increase of processing power was the electricity leakage that plagued smaller transistors. Intel’s new transistor formula not only alleviates this concern, but also eliminates ecologically harmful lead and, by 2008, halogen materials.

These breakthroughs clear the path for Intel to design products that are 25 percent smaller than previous models, as well as the ability to pursue new ultra mobile and consumer electronics “system on chip” opportunities in 2008.

The 12 new quad-core chips boast clock speeds ranging from 2GHz up to 3.20GHz, with front side bus speeds of up to 1600MHz, and cache sizes of 12MB. The three new dual-core chips feature clock speeds of up to 3.40GHz, a front side bus speed of up to 1600MHz, and cache sizes of 6MB. The 45nm Hi-k Intel Xeon processors are compatible with server platforms using the Intel 5000 chipset family. In addition, Intel is launching three platform solutions to support 45nm processors, including:

- The Intel 5400 chipset-based platform (previously codenamed “Stoakley”) that is optimized for high-bandwidth applications like high-performance computing (HPC).

-The Intel 5100 Memory Controller Hub chipset and Intel ICH-9R I/O controller (previously codenamed “Cranberry Lake”). These are cost-optimized solutions that support either one or two processors and also provide reduced power consumption using native DDR2 memory.

- The Intel 3200 chipset-based platform (previously codenamed “Garlow”) that is specifically designed for single-processor entry servers. The 45nm Hi-k Quad-Core Intel Xeon processor 5400 series sets a number of world records on key industry-standard benchmarks. A HP Proliant DL380 G5 Server sets a new TPC-C mark with a score of 273,666 tpmC and an SAP-SD record with a score of 2449 SD-Users. A Dell PowerEdge(a) 2950 server running BEA JRockit JVM delivered a record-breaking SPECjbb 2005 result of 303130 BOPS. Dell also sets a new virtualization performance record on VMmark benchmark running VMWare ESX Server with a score of 8.47 at 6 tiles. Using a PRIMERGY RX300 S4 Server, Fujitsu-Siemens set a new SPECint(a)_rate2006 record with a score of 138.

Additionally, the 5400 series chipset-based platform with 1600 MHz Front Side Bus sets new world records on key high-performance computing and bandwidth-intensive benchmarks including the SPECfp_rate 2006 benchmark that measures floating point throughput performance. World records were also achieved in key HPC benchmarks, including Fluent, LS-Dyna, SPECOMP2001 and Abaqus. For detailed system and testing information on these and other performance benchmarks, click here.

Intel’s 45nm Hi-k Xeon processors also extend performance-per-watt leadership by delivering an improvement of 38 percent over its previous-generation Quad-Core Xeon 5300 Series processors. The move from 65nm to 45nm involves more than just a shrink of current chip designs. The processors include such additional features as new Intel Streaming SIMD Extensions 4 (SSE4), which are 47 new instructions that speed up workloads including video encoding for high-definition and photo manipulation, as well as key HPC and enterprise applications. Software vendors supporting the new SSE4 instruction set include Adobe, Microsoft and Symantec. Additional processor performance enhancing architectural features include: - Enhanced Intel Virtualization Technology - Virtual machine transition (entry/exit) times are improved by an average of 25 to 75 percent through hardware with no changes to software required.

- Fast Division of Numbers – A fast divider roughly doubles the speed over previous generations for computations used in nearly all applications through a technique called Radix 16. The ability to divide instructions and commands faster increases a computer’s performance.

- Unique Super Shuffle Engine - By implementing a wider 128-bit shuffle unit, performance significantly improves for SSE-related instructions that have shuffle-like operations. This feature will increase performance for content creation, imaging, video and high-performance computing. Pricing of the 45nm Hi-k Intel Xeon processors depends on the model, speeds, features and amount ordered, and ranges from USD$177 to $1,279 in quantities of 1,000. The 45nm Hi-k Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9650 quad core processor is priced at $999 in quantities of 1,000. Depending on the model, these processors are available now or within 45 days.

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