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INTEL'S NEXT TOCK

THE CHIP GIANT PLANS TO BRING THE PAIN TO COMPETITORS ACROSS THE BOARD NEXT YEAR IN THE COMING MONTHS, Intel partisans will get two significant offerings: The biggest change will be the CPU known as Haswell. It's a "tock" in Intel's so-called "tick-tock" design parlance, and therefore a more substantial advance in processing. Remem - ber, the bigger leaps, or tocks, are offset from the manufactur - ing process changes. So, while you might expect the debut of a smaller process to yield a really butt-kicking CPU, that's not how the conservative company operates. Intel instead pioneers a new process with a modestly improved CPU a "tick." Only after the new process version is fully vetted and working with that chip does Intel decide to push performance. with a "tock." For example, the original groundbreaking Core 2 CPU was built on the same existing and well-tread 65nm pro - cess technology Intel had been using for the Pentium 4. And when Intel made the switch to 45nm, it debuted with a conservative jump ahead with the Yorkfield and Wolfdale CPUs. With its 3D 22nm CPUs now well-proven in the Ivy Bridge series of Core ix chips. Intel is going to swing for the fences with Haswell. Also built on the 22nm process, Haswell features more transis - tors in increasing parallelism for single-threaded applications and more efficient multithreaded code. But don't think Haswell is going to a six-core CPU or an eight-core package like AMD's new Vishera (see page 25 for info on that), to say nothing of a 12- threaded jobbie like the Core i7-3960X. For its mainstream CPUs. Intel's guiding principle will be to push performance-per-core rather than increase core or thread count. So expect Haswell to come in the form of quad-core with Hyper-Threading, quad-core without Hyper-Threading, as well as dual-cores with HT on and off. Lest you doubt that Intel can produce a performance boost worthy of a "tock" without increasing core or thread count, Intel says it can by extracting more performance out of existing code and making it easier to code for multicores. Haswell features deeper buffers, more execution units, improved branch pre - diction, increased internal L2 bandwidth, and two sets of new instructions intended to increase performance.


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