Like Nehalem, Westmere will support Intel technologies incorporated into Nehalem like Hyper-Threading, Intel Turbo Boost, and an integrated memory controller. When it launches in late 2009 two Westmere-based cores will be offered: Clarkdale for desktops, and Arrandale for notebooks.
Both Clarkdale and Arrandale will sport two processing cores with Hyper-Threading, bringing support for up to four threads to run simultaneously, and they’ll also be the first Intel CPUs to feature integrated graphics on the CPU package (although it won’t be on the same piece of silicon as the CPU die). Intel also says both CPUs will support dual-channel DDR3, with 4MB cache. In another first, the new processors will also support Intel’s new AES instructions: these are 7 new instructions focused on delivering accelerated encryption/decryption. This should reap benefits for users concerned about data security who would like to encrypt their hard drive.
Unlike Penryn, Westmere packaging will consist of 2 chips, one is the CPU and the 2nd chip is GPU+Memory controller
In terms of graphics, Intel says the new integrated graphics core should deliver dramatically improved performance, although when pressed further it sounds like it isn’t a new architecture, rather the design is derived from their existing 65-nm IGP. Instead the performance benefits largely come from the improved bandwidth and reduced latency Intel obviously reaps by integrating the CPU and GPU closer together on the same package, as well as higher clock speeds. Unlike the 32-nm Westmere CPU, the graphics chip used will be based on Intel's existing 45-nm process.
By integrating graphics on the same package as the CPU, that also obviously makes life tougher for someone like NVIDIA, who has touted their superior graphics performance before with integrated graphics products like GeForce 9400M, which has won numerous design wins including Apple Macbook.
With graphics moving off of the chipset and directly onto the CPU itself, it’s more efficient for someone like Apple, Dell, or HP to just use the integrated graphics provided by the CPU rather than going to the expense of using an NVIDIA chipset. Fortunately Clarkdale and Arrandale support switchable graphics, so a discrete GPU could be combined with the CPU to deliver superior 3D performance when needed for apps like gaming, and then switch back to the integrated graphics to conserve power.
Another benefit of integrating graphics onto the same package as the CPU for Intel is flexibility: they can easily add newer, more powerful graphics parts as they become available without having to resort to introducing a new system chipset or affecting the CPU core itself.
Interestingly enough, Intel has no plans at this time for a quad-core Westmere part. This also came as a bit of a surprise to us, but Intel said they plan to focus on the high volume market first and foremost. They also mentioned the current state of the economy, where consumers seem to be more price-conscious than ever. Obviously Clarkdale and Arrandale will be going primarily into low-cost desktop and notebook PCs, where dual-core is more prevalent.
Rather than introduce a new quad-core part based on Westmere, Intel’s sole quad-core parts will remain Lynnfield and Clarksfield until their next-generation Sandy Bridge architecture arrives at the end of 2010. You can see that in this slide here:
Fortunately Clarkdale and Arrandale will rely on the same 5-series motherboards launching first for Lynnfield and Clarksfield.
For the high-end desktop PC market, in early 2010 Intel plans to replace today’s Core i7 CPUs with a third Westmere-based core codenamed Gulftown. Gulftown will ship with six processing cores, with Hyper-Threading support added on top brining the total number of threads supported to 12.
According to Intel, Gulftown will utilize today’s X58 chipset, so potentially users upgrading right now should have an upgrade path a year from today.
To whet the public’s appetite, Intel also showed off desktop and mobile Westmere-based platforms today:
Intel’s lead in process technology gives them a huge advantage over AMD. In addition, unlike AMD, Intel’s roadmap execution has been perfect as of late. When Intel says they’re going to do something, they actually deliver on that promise. That makes life easier for system integrators who can plan accordingly, and the consumer benefits from the timely arrival of new products.
As enthusiasts, we’re a little disappointed to see Gulftown isn’t launching at the end of this year, but given Core i7’s lead over AMD, obviously Intel doesn’t feel a higher-end CPU part is needed right now. Instead they’re going directly after the value mantle AMD is heavily competing in with lower spec Athlon X2 parts.
This move is likely going to make life tougher for AMD come the end of 2009.
NVIDIA will also come under pressure as a result of this move. By canceling Havendale and going straight to Clarkdale and Arrandale, Intel will have a more powerful graphics part (although we wouldn’t be surprised if they’re still behind today’s GeForce 9400M) that’s packaged with the CPU. This makes it tougher for NVIDIA to sell their integrated chipsets, as you’re essentially asking your partners to buy something that Intel’s basically giving them for free. Just as integrated audio and networking have made life tougher for the likes of Creative and 3Com, integrated graphics that’s built-in to the CPU will make things tougher for NVIDIA.
Discrete graphics will always have a place in the PC, but as the surge in netbook sales has shown, the value segment is where the real growth is right now.
We’re also baffled by Intel’s decision to rely on Lynnfield and Clarksfield to service the mainstream quad-core space until Sandy Bridge arrives. Here our guess is that Intel will have plenty of SKUs to adequately service the market, especially if Intel ends up introducing slower Core i7 parts below the 920 at some point. It also doesn’t hurt that AMD’s quad-core Phenom II parts are more competitive with today’s Core 2 Penryn CPUs than Nehalem, so again, there’s no rush to introduce new parts in this space when your existing lineup should be more than adequate enough to outperform the competition.
In terms of clock speeds, Intel revealed that clocks won't be drastically different than today's CPUs. So don't expect anything too drastic here.
In any case, Intel’s got AMD right where they want them, and their recent moves with Westmere will also make life tougher for their other competitor, NVIDIA. Add in Larrabee and things get even more interesting for Intel. We don’t see Intel’s dominance ending anytime soon.
Elemental: Fallen Enchantress Preview Elemental: Fallen Enchantress is a standalone expansion pack and follow-up to developer Stardock's previous game in the series, subtitled War of Magic. That 4X strategy game was highly-anticipated and slated to compete with games such as Sid Meier's Civilization V for your turn-based strategy play-time, but was released in an incredibly broken and unfinished state that it never fully recovered from. Lead designer Brad Wardell apologized profusely to fans and set out with his team to go back to the drawing board and try again.
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ANNO 2070 Review
The year is 2070. The majority of life on Earth was devastated when global sea levels surged after the melting of the polar ice caps. Swaths of previously habitable land are now deep underwater, and sovereign nations are a relic of the past. But there is still hope...
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Hear that? It's the sound of the largest computer chip manufacturer in the world churning out new processors to power your gaming rig. This week, Intel is launching their next generation of Core CPUs, code-named Ivy Bridge. Like last year's Sandy Bridge chips, they're low-power, quad-core powerhouses that also feature integrated graphics processors. Want to find out more? Maybe check out a whole bunch of performance benchmarks on both the CPU and graphics sides of things? Well you can, in today's review!
Intel Z77 Chipset & DZ77GA-70K Motherboard Overview
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Mass Effect 3 PC Review
This latest release from EA/BioWare is the final entry in their trilogy of sci-fi action RPGs, putting you in a dire situation: rally the troops to save Earth at all costs. There was a lot of hype surrounding the final act of what has been a vast and highly-customizable story-telling experience, and the reception among many hardcore fans has been less than stellar. Even people that haven't played the game have probably heard about all the nerd rage going on over Mass Effect 3's ending...
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