Examining Intelís Dual-Core
Laying the Foundation
If anything, Intel is adamant that this equipment is production-ready. At the same time, Intel is saying that the 3.2GHz dual-core components do not represent the best single-threaded performance you can get. Existing Pentium 4 Extreme Edition processors--even the higher-clocked standard Pentium 4 chips--will deliver better performance in games and other single-threaded environments. But the general belief is that dual-core processors will pave the way for more multi-threaded software, and as a trend the chips will outperform existing architectures, even at lower clock speeds.
Naturally, thatís a significant disclosure for gamers because we know upfront that dual-core wonít necessarily make a positive impact on performance just yet. I had the chance to sit down with two gentlemen from Intelís benchmarking lab during CES earlier this year and we discussed the ramifications of dual-core in gaming. They were able to explain that 3DMark05ís CPU module favors Intelís design so heavily because it is multi-threaded, and benefits from Hyper-Threading. Dual-core is expected to amplify that advantage.
It also came out that while there currently arenít any multi-threaded games, content is in development. Writing and optimizing a game for multiple threads is significantly more difficult, it turns out. And although we may not see wide-spread use of parallel processing architectures until late 2006, physics, animation, sound, and AI are all areas where dual-core will imminently change the way games are played.
So why bother with dual-core now? Apparently, thereís more to life than games. Intel is pushing threaded performance harder than ever and dual-core technology promises better performance than Hyper-Threading. If you still doubt, consider that Intelís roadmap is currently loaded with multi-core designs, ranging from the 65nm mobile Yonah to the 1.7 billion-transistor Montecito core, intended for enterprise-level servers.
Given their respective processor architectures, Intel and AMD are going about dual-core in distinctly different ways. Weíll save the Opteron banter for a separate story except to say that AMD is comfortable enough with its current platform to enable dual-core processors as drop-in upgrades for existing motherboards. According to the company, its architecture was originally designed for the move to dual-core, which is only now possible, thanks to 90nm manufacturing.
Conversely, Intelís approach necessitates a brand new chipset and motherboard. Past conversations with Intel employees have suggested that the accompanying platform would better cope with dual-core throughput requirements. At least weíre seeing Intel stick with its LGA775 socket interface.