Intel Developers Forum Day 1: Kentsfield, 45nm
Paul then brought out Markus Maki from Remedy (Max Payne, and Max Payne 2) to talk about how upcoming games will take advantage of the capabilities of a new Quad-Core processor. Markus demoed "Alan Wake", a game about a man whose nightmares begin to come true. He demoed the game on a Falcon Northwest Core 2 Extreme QX6700 quad-core system overclocked by over 1GHz to 3.73GHz, using an "NVIDIA graphics solution" one which was left model nameless and of course piqued our geek immensely.
The game makes extensive use of HDR volumetric lighting, even in expansive outdoor environments. Quite frankly, it looked completely awesome. One entire CPU core was dedicated to physics processing, and in addition to processing the game world, the other cores helped to prepare data for the GPUs to speed rendering. No other details were given beyond this. Regardless, it certainly was an impressive demo and a great way to kick off the show.
Paul then moved the audience into Intel's manufacturing capabilities, and mentioned that their 45nm manufacturing processes is tracking exactly as 65nm did at this stage of its development. He mentioned that intel already has fifteen 45nm products already in development. That's a lot of VERY expensive mask sets but since their built internally of course, Intel can throw more than a few very efficient pennies at the design.
He showed an overhead picture of their 45nm facility in Oregon, Fab D1D, that cost roughly $3B -- chump-change for Intel, or so it would seem. The facility is 212,000 square ft and it is producing test wafers now. To say Intel has the manufacturing muscle to put into motion virtually any new technological advancement they so choose, would be an understatement of large proportions. Production wafers will come from the facility in 2H '07.
Paul also showed pics of upcoming facilities in Arizona (Fab 32) and Israel (Fab 28). In total, Intel will have three 45nm fabs by the end of next year at an investment of about $9B. In total, between the three facilities, they'll have about a 1/2 million square feet of clean room. These fabs will be used to produce 45nm products, and facilitate Intel's desire to introduce new micro architectures every 2 years, while continually enhancing performance per watt. 800 pound gorilla? Goliath? There is no question, Intel has the fire power and their big guns are chambered.
He then showed a pic of the ASCI Red super-computer circa 1996. It consisted of 85 cabinets and performed at roughly 1 teraflop. He then pulled out a 45nm wafer, with 80 cores on that wafer (they must have been very large die). They were of an experimental design that can perform at 1 teraflop per chip, and can transfer 1TB/s of data between their cores and integrated stacked SRAM structures. Each of these die had 80 simple floating point cores on them. Otellini noted this is a "potential" design that could be in production within 5 years. This kind of power could yield real-time video search, and real-time speech-recognition with language translation.
Paul then brought out Tom Barton of Rackable Systems. He showed off a 1/2 height 20U rack, that can stack systems on top of each other and back to back. In that 20U rack, they could fit 40 servers, each with dual-quad-core Xeons, for a total of 320 cores. This is possible because of the lower TDP of the new Xeons. The 20U rack filled with dual-quad core Xeon servers is in the top 200 fastest super-computers in the world. The full height rack, which can fit double the number of servers, is in the top 80 super computers. The 1/2 height rack can process up to 3 teraflops, the full height up to 6 teraflops.
Paul then came back down to earth and moved on to talking about the desktop. He spoke of the popularity of the Core 2 Duo. Intel has shipped millions of these CPUs in the last 60-days. It has been their most successful ramp ever. In addition to higher performance, the lower power requirements have allowed partners to produce smaller form factor systems. He showed some small VIIV compliant systems and spoke of new DMA (Digital Media Adapters) that will make it easy for VIIV PCs to send data to legacy video devices or for better integration with the entertainment center. He also showed an upcoming DIRECTV set-top-box with a built in DMA that will interface with a VIIV PC to share content. Performance per watt and performance per square inch were the theme of the day.