Intel Outlines ‘Sandy Bridge’ Chip Platform


Intel officials have confirmed that the replacement for the current “Nehalem” microarchitecture will enter production by the end of 2010

At a developer conference in China, Intel officials provided a sneek peek at their upcoming 32-nanometer “Sandy Bridge” processor platform and their “Tunnel Creek” Atom-based system-on-a-chip.

In his keynote speech at the Intel Developer Forum in Beijing 13 April, Dadi Perlmutter, executive vice president and co-general manager of the Intel Architecture Group, told the audience that Sandy Bridge, the successor to the chip maker’s “Nehalem” platform, will be in production toward the end of 2010.

The chips are set to appear in desktops and notebooks in early 2011, according to Intel. Company officials say the new processors will offer a 20 percent improvement over the current Core i notebooks chips.

Perlmutter’s announcement comes two weeks after Intel unveiled the Xeon 7500 “Nehalem EX” processor family for servers with four or more sockets. The four- to eight-core chip line was the final processor family to be based on the Nehalem microarchitecture. Intel has refreshed its entire line of PC and server chips with the Nehalem platform.

Among the key features in Sandy Bridge will be Intel’s AVX (Advanced Vector Extension) instructions, which is designed to improve the speeds for image, video and audio processing, according to Intel. Company officials also said the AVX feature will help accelerate processing of engineering applications, such as 3D modeling, scientific simulation and financial analytics.

Intel’s AES New Instructions will accelerate encryption and decryption processing.

Doug Davis, vice president and general manager of Intel’s Embedded and Communications Group, outlined the company’s Tunnel Creek SoC platform, which is being designed for such devices as tablets, IP phones, printers and in-car infotainment systems.

Tunnel Creek will be based on the “Moorestown” Atom design, and will also feature an integrated Atom processor core, memory controller hub, graphics engine and video engine.

In addition, Tunnel Creek will include PCI Express, which Intel officials said will increase the platform’s flexibility for embedded applications by enabling other companies to connect their own PCI Express-compliant devices directly to the chip.

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