AUSTIN, Texas Intel Corp. has cancelled its single-core processor development efforts, code-named Tejas and Jayhawk, and will move to dual-core designs across the mobile, desktop, and server markets in 2005, Intel said Friday (May 7).
The Tejas design, now cancelled, was to have been follow-on to the Pentium 4 Prescott design, now shipping. Jayhawk was intended as a server processor based in part on the Tejas single-core design. Both were expected to come to market next year. Those designs will be replaced by dual-core designs, with the same engineering teams in Austin, Portland, Oregon, and Santa Clara working on the dual-core designs, said Howard High, spokesman for the Santa Clara, Calif.-based microprocessor vendor. No layoffs are planned, he added.
"Most of our customers are telling us that dual-core is the right approach," High said. Multi-tasking and multi-threading software "is moving from the office environment into the digital home, and going to a dual-core approach is a way to get multi-threading into the home faster," High said.
Nathan Brookwood, principal analyst at Insight 64 (Saratoga, Calif.), said Intel's change in direction is due to power and performance issues. Pushing the megahertz on a single-core design has increased power consumption markedly. Also, as Intel's pipeline has deepened, the penalty for branch misses has worsened.
The shift is an important one: for more than 30 years Intel has deepened its pipeline and pushed megahertz ratings. "For Intel to take its foot off of transistor performance, and move to an all dual core architecture approach, is a big deal," Brookwood said.
With the 90-nm single-core Prescott version of the Pentium 4, Intel has run into power consumption problems that stem from design issues more than process technology, Brookwood said. The transistor count on Prescott increased to 120 million, including a megabyte of cache. That is more than double the 55 million transistors on the previous Pentium 4, the Northwood design. The increased transistor account is largely responsible for the high thermal budget, rather than any excessive leakage from the 90-nm transistors, Brookwood said.
He noted that Intel's Dothan mobile processor uses the same 90-nm process as Prescott. But the 90-nm Dothan, which Intel will formally announce next week, consumes less power per megahertz than does the 130-nm Banias mobile processor, an indication that Intel's 90-nm process requires less power consumption per transistor, as it should.
"Banius, AMD's Opteron, all seem to benefit in terms of watts-per-megahertz from the shift to 90-nm. That tells me that the problem with Prescott is more of a design issue with the large increase in transistor count," Brookwood said. He said Intel has plans to reduce the thermal budget for Prescott to about 93 Watts, from more than 100 Watts now.
High, the Intel spokesman, said "the thermal window of Prescott is set, and we have not changed our published plans to move to a 4-Ghz version of Prescott by the end of this year. That said, we will continue to improve the circuits on Prescott."