Intel to debut GPU-in-CPU chips in 2009
PCI Express 2.0 to become the system bus
Intel's first next processors based on its next-generation 'Nehalem' architecture are due to appear a year from now, in Q4 2008. But the really interesting models will arrive during the first half of 2009: desktop and mobile CPUs with integrated graphics cores.
The chip giant's roadmap currently has the first Nehalems, codenamed 'Bloomfield', coming on stream late next year and targeting gaming PCs, just as this month introduction of the first Core 2 Extreme 'Penryn' processors did. Like Penryn, Nehalem is designed to fabbed using a 45nm process.
Bloomfield's speeds are not yet known, but it's expected to use a new, 1366-pin interconnect. As we've reported before, that forms the basis for the CPU's QuickPath bus, which links its four cores - each, don't forget, including HyperThreading (HT) technology to allow them to operates as two cores for a total of eight - to three channels of DDR 3 memory, according to a report on Japanese-language site PCWatch.
The gaming chip has 8MB of shared L2 cache and connects to the 'Tylersburg' ancillary chip, which provides a route through to the ICH10 I/O chip and the PCI Express 2.0 bus, where the graphics card will sit.
Bloomfield appears to be something of a stop-gap product, because roadmaps seen by PCWatch show a follow-up part, 'Lynnfield', due in H1 2009. It cuts the interconnect down to 1160 LGA pins and the adoption of PCI Express as the chip-to-chip bus.
Lynnfield is a quad-core part, again with HT to allow it to operate as eight cores, and with 8MB of L2. It too supports DDR 3, but only in a dual-channel configuration, the report indicates. The CPU's on-board PCI Express controller allows it to link directly to a x16 graphics card, while its I/O chip, 'Ibexpeak', connects by DMI (Direct Media Interface).
The same architecture will be used by 'Cleaksfield/Clarksfield' - there's some confusion over the name - the Nehalem-era mainstream quad-core part. However, this chip uses a 989-pin rPGA interconnect.
So too wil 'Auburndale', while is said to be a mobile chip, implying that Cleaksfield/Clarksfield is too. Auburndale is a dual-core product - HyperThreading makes it appear as a quad-core chip to the operating system - with 4MB of L2 and dual-channel DDR 3 support.
Like Cleaksfield/Clarksfield it will use PCI Express as its system bus to connect to a discrete GPU. But this will be optional: Auburndale will sport an integrated GPU of its own, along with a directly connected video memory buffer.
Once again, Ibexpeak provides the I/O, over a DMI link.
There'll be a desktop version of Auburndale, codenamed 'Havendale', which will use the same LGA1160 interconnect as Lynnfield.
Then, in H2 2009, Intel will introduce 32nm die-shrink versions of these processors, all based on the 'Westmere' architecture.
AMD's Fusion processor, which likewise integrates multiple cores, specialist chippery and, potentially, GPUs all on the same processor die, is also due to debut in 2009. Earlier this year, AMD said the first Fusion processors would be mobile chips.
Strengths of the PC
Didn't the PC platform become the powerhouse it is by not sticking everything on one single-vendor controller board? This will undoubtedly be useful for lower-end laptop manufacturers and those trying to build small devices, but it goes against the things I like about the PC platform - choice and flexibility.
It reeks of Microsoft too... one day you have a business selling compression software, the next it's in the OS (and a bunch of other features like firewalls and CD writing). The same may go for graphics vendors...
This would presumably make switching from discrete to dedicated graphics processing on-the-fly a breeze? Surely the desktop's days are numbered?
Daniel, the CPU doesn't replace the GPU - it contains a GPU, just as AMD processors already contain a memory controller. The CPU will become a system-on-a-chip.
Intel GPU's ?
Based on my experience with the i830M, no thanks, I'll keep my geForce 7600GT.
I think the whole *point* of 3dfx cards was to offload all that stuff from the main CPU and run it more efficiently on dedicated hardware. Hell, the Amiga did it decades ago and it was bleeding-edge tech back then!
One problem - intel graphics suck, you can get a better card for about £10. The only gaming you can do on intel graphics is solitaire, and even then, not on vista.