BY NOW, most of you lot probably know a fair bit about Penryn, the codename for Intel’s imminent 45nm Core Microarchitecture.
You’ll know about the 12 November ship date for first chips, SSE4 instructions, Super Shuffle Engine, up to 12MB caches, the Radix-16 divider, support for higher bus speeds, faster virtualisation task switching, and Deep Power Down energy-saving facility. This is old ground and if you want to retread it, have a look at the presentation here.
But the other day we (the royal 'we') had a rare chance to chat to talk to a real-life Intel engineer, Penryn lead architect Steve Fischer no less, and gain a few new details and some insights into his thinking on future developments. This interview was conducted on behalf of The INQUIRER’s sister title IT Week and a full interview will be posted there next week, but here are a few details to whet the appetite of obsessive types.
First up, despite some reports, the first Penryn chips will go to three places: Harpertown, a Xeon for quad-core, dual-socket servers; Yorkfield, for quad-core, one socket Extreme Edition desktops; and Wolfdale, a Xeon for dual-core, dual-socket servers.
Clock speeds of up to 3GHz have been widely reported but Fischer suggested 3.2GHz is likely at launch, with headroom for passing 4GHz later, all things being well and if Intel’s marketing folks think that is a sensible way to go.
As Fischer says, “We’ve allowed ourselves to provide a mid-life kick in terms of clock rate.”
Speaking of clock frequency, Fischer said Intel’s engineers find the modding and overclocking community fun.
“We find it entertaining,” he says. “It’s like these custom garage mechanics that take something they bought from a Detroit garage floor.”
Like Pimp My Ride?
“Yeah, Pimp My Processor!”
And what do Intel’s geniuses think of the fanbois out there, populating blog s and web sites with their rants? Generously, Fischer plays it straight.
“Some of it’s entertaining in terms of interpretation, the gamers especially, and some of the conspiracy theories we see. Other aspects can be interesting to see what the users feel and sometimes it’s just cannon fodder put out by the competition. I certainly keep my eye on this stuff personally. You have to filter the wheat from the chaff.”
What about graphics integration?
“It’s a challenge,” he concedes. “They’re separate design teams and different people on the GPU side of things and CPU side of things. But [both sides] have been working at Intel for some time and we have an ability to combine these things and have good collaboration.”
Hm, is that a knock on DAAMIT?
Anyway, we’ve saved one more treat for last. World+dog knows that Intel’s codenames are usually based on US towns and rivers. Well, Fischer’s team had a say in the Penryn name, so how come that particular choice?
Turns out that Penryn is near Folsom, California where Intel has a campus, and was chosen because of its interesting history. This was gold-rush country and was so named because many of the original miners came from Penryn, Cornwall in deepest south west England.
So there. µ
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