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9/22/2017 12:11:25 AM
Posted: 8/18/2005 11:18:45 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 8/18/2005 11:36:11 AM EDT by TacticalStrat]

Hot Chips: Intel's dual-core Pentium 4 a rush job
By Tom Krazit, IDG News Service
August 17, 2005 3:00 pm ET

Intel Corp.’s first dual-core chip was a hastily concocted design that was rushed out the door in hopes of beating rival Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD) to the punch, an Intel engineer told attendees at the Hot Chips conference Tuesday.

With the realization that its single-core processors had hit a wall, Intel engineers plunged headlong into designing the Smithfield dual-core chip in 2004 but faced numerous challenges in getting that chip to market, said Jonathan Douglas, a principal engineer in Intel’s Digital Enterprise Group, which makes chips for office desktops and servers.

“We faced many challenges from taking a design team focused on making the highest performing processors possible to one focused on multicore designs,” Douglas said in a presentation on Intel’s Pentium D 800 series desktop chips and the forthcoming Paxville server chip, both of which are based on the Smithfield core.

Intel was unable to design a new memory bus in time for the dual-core chip, so it kept the same bus structure used by older Pentium 4 chips, Douglas said at the conference at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. This bus was capable of supporting two separate single-core processors, but it was not as nearly as efficient as the dual-independent buses that will appear on the Paxville processors or the integrated memory controller used on AMD’s chips. The memory bus or front-side bus on Intel’s chips is used to connect the processor to memory.

All of Intel’s testing tools and processes had been designed for single-core chips, Douglas said. This meant that the company had to quickly come up with a new testing methodology for dual-core chips that could measure the connections between both cores.

Also, a new package had to be designed for the Pentium D chips that could accommodate both cores. “We’re putting two cores in one package, it’s like trying to fit into the pair of pants you saved from college,” Douglas said.

Intel would have preferred to design a package that would put two pieces of silicon in a single package, like the design that will be used for a future desktop chip called Presler, but its packaging team simply didn’t have time to get that in place for Smithfield, Douglas said.

The company’s Pentium D processors consist of two Pentium 4 cores placed closely together on a single silicon die. That design creates some problems in that dual-core processors must have some logic that coordinates the actions of both cores, and those transistors have to go somewhere in an already small package, Douglas said. This caused signaling problems that needed to be overcome, he said.

Intel also had to design special thermal diodes into the chip that would closely monitor the heat given off by the combination of two fast processor cores, Douglas said.

In total, Intel completed the Smithfield processor core in nine months, Douglas said. By Intel’s standards, that is an extremely aggressive goal for a major processor design, said Kevin Krewell, editor in chief of The Microprocessor Report in San Jose, California.

“Most designs take years,” Krewell said. “But it was very important for them to get back in the game and have a road map.”

Intel began to put together the Smithfield project around the time it publicly announced plans in May 2004 to cancel two future single-core designs and concentrate on multicore chips. The company realized that wringing more clock speed out of its single-core designs would require a significant engineering effort to deal with the excessive heat given off by those chips.

At the time, AMD had already started work on a dual-core version of its Opteron server processor that it would demonstrate in September of that year. AMD unveiled its dual-core Opteron chip in April, a few days after Intel launched Smithfield. AMD has since released dual-core desktop chips.

One reason for the aggressive schedule set for Smithfield was the need to respond to AMD’s actions, Douglas said, without mentioning his company’s competitor by name. “We needed a competitive response. We were behind,” he said.

Despite the rush, Smithfield was good enough to get Intel into the dual-core era, Krewell said. “It’s not an optimal solution, but it’s a viable solution. It works, and it works reasonably well,” he said.

Intel took a little more time designing the server version of Smithfield, known as Paxville, Douglas said. For instance, the company was able to address the bus inefficiencies by designing Paxville to use dual-independent front-side buses. Also, the more sophisticated package was available in time for Paxville, which helps reduce the chip’s power consumption, he said.

Paxville will be released ahead of schedule later this year in separate versions for two-way servers and for servers with four or more processors. Intel had originally expected to release the chip in 2006, but will get Paxville out the door in the second half of this year, it announced Monday. Another dual-core server processor, code-named Dempsey, will be released in the first quarter of 2006.

Future multicore designs will present additional challenges, Douglas said. Point-to-point buses and integrated memory controllers have been prominent features of other multicore designs, such as Opteron and the Cell processor. These designs help improve performance, but Intel isn’t necessarily sold on the concept because it requires a larger number of pins to deliver electricity into the processor and that can hurt yields, he said.


Link Posted: 8/18/2005 11:25:51 AM EDT
This is kind of old news - I wonder why they only stumbled across that now....
Link Posted: 8/18/2005 11:28:01 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 8/18/2005 11:29:27 AM EDT by DoubleFeed]
Link Posted: 8/18/2005 11:34:23 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 8/18/2005 11:36:39 AM EDT by TacticalStrat]

Originally Posted By Zhukov:
This is kind of old news - I wonder why they only stumbled across that now....

It's common knowledge among technical people that Intel slapped together the dual-core P4 and rushed it out in desperation. But to have an Intel Engineer publicly state this..........????? That's very bad PR for Intel.
Link Posted: 8/18/2005 11:52:47 AM EDT
Yah.... okay. So does this relate to the info about the design flop of the P5 from a year ago?
It is common knoledge that they have been migrating the design features that worked from the P5 to the P4 for more than two years.

In my industry we have been running our own 32 Bit Kernel Programs for almost 12 years / Intel Based. I do not see any pressure for Intel to rush anything to market when there is a glut of old product and no really demand. Besides... for better or worse... Microsoft holds the keys to the kingdom and the build of the AMD is not the base line for future 64 Bit and beyond; Intel is.

Link Posted: 8/18/2005 12:02:15 PM EDT

Think This Intel Engineer Still Has a Job?

Sure he does...

...now at AMD.
Link Posted: 8/18/2005 12:04:35 PM EDT
Link Posted: 8/18/2005 12:10:42 PM EDT

Originally Posted By DoubleFeed:

Originally Posted By leelaw:

Think This Intel Engineer Still Has a Job?

Sure he does...

...now at AMD.

Who says he only just now started working for AMD?
Link Posted: 8/18/2005 12:11:56 PM EDT
Great, another reason for my company stock to go down. Everytime someone from Intel opens their mouth, our stock drops. No matter what they say. Even when intel annouced that they got China to use our Wifi platform, our stock dropped. We annouced we beat wall street expectations, our stock dropped. When we are silent, our stock goes up. Will the executives ever get it. I hope so.
Link Posted: 8/18/2005 12:14:39 PM EDT
Link Posted: 8/18/2005 12:44:17 PM EDT

Clearspeed CSX600 is a 50GFLOPS array processor

The need for speed
Link Posted: 8/18/2005 12:54:43 PM EDT
Like DoubleFeed said, I can neither confirm nor deny that I may or may not be working for Intel's competitor.

Link Posted: 8/18/2005 12:56:29 PM EDT
Link Posted: 8/18/2005 2:08:09 PM EDT
You work for Evergreen Technologies?

Originally Posted By Zhukov:
Like DoubleFeed said, I can neither confirm nor deny that I may or may not be working for Intel's competitor.

Link Posted: 8/18/2005 2:20:41 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Zhukov:
Like DoubleFeed said, I can neither confirm nor deny that I may or may not be working for Intel's competitor.

Yeah, me too!
Link Posted: 8/18/2005 2:25:41 PM EDT
It can't be worse than that hyper-threading abomination.
Link Posted: 8/18/2005 2:27:12 PM EDT

Originally Posted By leelaw:

Think This Intel Engineer Still Has a Job?

Sure he does...

...now at AMD.

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