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Intel introduces CPUs with GPUs on 32nm Westmere: Nehalem axed

by Tarinder Sandhu on 10 February 2009, 19:00

Tags: Intel (NASDAQ:INTC)

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Mid-range upheaval

Ringing in the changes

Fleshing out an earlier story, here's the new roadmap for desktop (client) parts, running from now through to 2010.

Going from top to bottom, the Core i7 line, based on Nehalem, will remain the standard-bearer into 2010. Perhaps the only addition to the HEDT (high-end desktop) segment will be the formal release of the 975 Extreme Edition chip.

Looking farther afield, 32nm Westmere will come in and usurp Nehalem's position, and do it in style, with a six-core, 12-thread chip currently known as Gulftown. This isn't the first time Intel has released a six-core chip: server-based Dunnington has been there before.

Gulftown should cement Intel's position as performance champion of the HEDT space, not that it was in much doubt with Core i7.

Mid-range upheaval

The more imminent change lies with the mid-range platform. As per the 2008 roadmap, Intel is still introducing a quad-core Nehalem derivative, Lynnfield, which cheapens production by using dual-channel DDR3 RAM and a DMI interface between chips. It will be productised to Core i5, most likely.

However, 45nm Havendale is chopped in favour of a 32nm Westmere-derived model, and it's called Clarkdale. Being socket-compatible with Lynnfield (LGA1156, perhaps?), Clarkdale drops down a process and reduces chip power from four cores to two, albeit with four threads with HyperThreading intact. The rest of the die is taken up by integrated graphics - yup, an IGP - on the chip.

The one-chip package will house the main CPU based on 32nm and a 45nm IGP and memory-controller, linked together via a QPI interconnect. It's interesting to see that the next-generation chip, in the mainstream market, will have the IMC removed from the core itself, although you could argue that Intel kind of sees it presently, by referring to the IMC in the 'uncore' portion of Nehalem.

Currently, Intel's X4500HD integrated graphics are manufactured on a 65nm process, and it would be a good bet to assume that Clarkdale chips' IGP, on the CPU, is based on that design, although with significantly more oomph.

The multi-chip module (MCM) will be the first incarnation of the hybrid design, and we can expect Intel to move the graphics and memory-controller on to a CPU-matching process on the next iteration along, Sandy Bridge.