The upcoming International Solid-State Circuits Conference in San Francisco has rushed the major CPU manufacturers into detailing upon their new technologies that are being cooked as we speak
. The ISSCC is one of the largest events in the chip design industry and the showcased products become reality within a few months. This year, it's Intel, IBM and Sun to be in the spotlight.
Intel will introduce the extremes: the world's biggest commercial microprocessor and the lowest power X86 chip for the mobile market
. Intel's Silverthorne is an x86 processor that only takes up 2 watts of power, which is ten times less than an average mobile CPU. The 25-square millimeter chip will be able to process two instructions per clock and will feature a core clock speed of 2GHz with a 533 MHz front side bus.
"The competition considers 2W laughable," claimed Will Strauss, principal of market watcher Forward Concepts. "600 milliwatts is the power budget for an entire cellphone processor and baseband," he said.
Intel will also present four-core version of its Itanium server CPU, that packs an impressive amount of 2.05 billion transistors, which qualifies it for the biggest commercial processor ever. It is called Tukwilla and lies on a 700 square millimeters surface. Needless to say that the chip features a thermal envelope of 170W (the equivalent of two generic electric bulbs). It comes with a L2 cache of 30 MB and works at a core clock of 2 GHz.
Turkwilla is built on the older 65-nanometer technology which explains the huge thermal envelope. It is also the first CPU in the family to come with Intel's proprietary QuickPath processor interconnect, the Intel equivalent for AMD's HyperTransport interconnect. It also comes to replace the old and inefficient Front Side Bus.
Sun will boast its Rock processor, a 396 square-millimeter CPU with 16 cores, also built with the 65-nanometer production node. Sun's design is the firs CPU to support atomic transactions, a new parallel processing technique. The Rock will reach a maximum speed of 2.3 GHz and will handle best jobs like database processing.
IBM is supposed to enlarge upon a version of the Cell processor built at the 45-nanometer manufacturing node, that takes 40 percent less power and 36 percent less space. The Cell is one of the most powerful processors in the world and will power Sony's PlayStation 3.