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Intel spills beans on Core 2 successor

Quoting Ars Technica 

At a press conference today, Intel's Pat Gelsinger revealed fresh details of the company's forthcoming 45nm processor family, codenamed Penryn. Penryn is the 45nm successor to the Merom/Conroe/Woodcrest microarchitecture that underlies the popular 65nm Core 2 Duo processor line.

Gelsinger opened the briefing with a discussion of the success of the company's "tick-tock" model of processor innovation, a model in which process shrinks and major architectural revisions are rolled out on a staggered two-year time scale. "Today's disclosures clearly lay out that this engine is delivering and delivering on track," said Gelsinger, responding to what he characterized as initial skepticism that the model could work.

Gelsinger then moved on to discuss Penryn, which is the first product that will be produced on Intel's new high-k dielectric 45nm process. Penryn is more than just a shrink—it's a derivative of Core 2 Duo (codenamed Merom) with a number of improvements. Gelsinger laid out those improvements in more detail than we've seen so far, so I'll outline them below.

...

Penryn boosts virtualization

One of the major features that Penryn brings to the table is a pretty important improvement to the performance of its Virtualization Technology (VT). Specifically, the performance of its virtual machine (VM) exit and VM entry instructions has been boosted so that VM transition times decrease by an average of 25 to 75 percent.

Right now, a lot of folks who're testing out VT have been disappointed that its performance isn't much better than existing, non-VT-based virtualization solutions like VMware. Specifically, VMware products use a binary translation engine that ingests regular x86 OS code and produces a "safe" subset; VMware claims that this binary translation approach is as fast as, or faster, than VT-based approaches because the OS doesn't have to do costly VM transitions in order to execute privileged instructions. (These claims are debated; I'm merely reporting the fact that they are made.)

A major decrease in VM transition times will help the performance of VT-based solutions like Xen, and it would make the "which virtualization package to use?" debate even more about managment and less about relative performance than it already is.

All told, Intel will introduce six Penryn products this year, spanning the full range of segments from ultra-mobile to server. A full fifteen Penryn products are currently in development.

Read the entire article or comment, here.

Published Thursday, March 29, 2007 6:08 AM by David Marshall
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