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Intel roadmaps next-gen Extreme 'Nehalem' chips

Chipset details emerge too

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Intel's first 'Nehalem' desktop processors will be aimed at gamers, the latest update to the chip giant's product roadmap has revealed. Expect a set of four-core Extreme - Core 3? - parts codenamed 'Gainstown' and 'Bloomfield'.

Gainstown will be pitched at dual-processor machines, for which intel is developing 'Tylersburg', the chip that connects the CPUs to PCI Express 2.0 slots and on to the host system's southbridge I/O chip, according to a report by Japanese-language site PCWatch.

As yet, Gainstown speeds haven't been added to the roadmap, but Gainstown is thought to be set to contain 8MB of L3 cache, have the ability to host three channels of DDR 3 memory clocked at up to 1333MHz, support two QuickPath Interconnect (QPI) links and, consequently, use a new chip pin-out, LGA 1366.

The two QPI links are used to connect each Gainstown to the other and to a pair of Tylersburgs. These each support two QPI links - they're connected together as well as to the CPUs - and 36 PCIe lanes, allowing systems to host four x16 PCIe slots and two x4 slots. One of the Tylersburg chips is expected to connect to a standard Intel ICH southbridge.

Less is known about Bloomfield, but it will form the basis of Extreme chips for single-processor boxes and of future Core x Quad CPUs to succeed the upcoming 45nm Core 2 Quad Q9450 and Q9550 parts. They're due in Q1 2008, according to the roadmap, with Bloomfield, like Gainstown, following in Q4 2008, which is when Intel has, in the past, said Nehalem will appear.

Interestingly, Bloomfield first appeared in a report way back in December 2005, listed as an eight-core CPU due late 2008. The source document was widely denounced at the time, but its list of codenames has proved accurate.

Nehalem is Intel's next major chip architecture, fabbed at 45nm and due to see a memory controller and - potentially - GPU technology incorporated into the core. It has the potential to scale to eight-core CPUs, each core capable of handling two processing threads simultaneously thanks to the return of Intel's HyperThreading technology, absent from Core and Core 2 chips.

Intel recently admitted the design of its initial Nehalem chips was complete and was already booting a variety of operating systems, including Mac OS X.

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