IDF Day 1: Gordon Moore, Gelsinger's Keynote
Skulltrail and More
Mr. Gelsinger then shifted the conversation to “energy efficient performance” and played a video that featured a representative from Rackable Systems. They showed off the company’s “ICE Cube” mobile datacenter. With the ICE Cube, Rackable was able to eliminate virtually all cooling fans, which in turn drastically increases MTBF and lowers power consumption. Perhaps the “coolest” feature of the ICE Cube is that it resided in a tractor trailer.
Pat then drew comparisons between the future Harpertown platform and current Clovertown to show that the next-gen machines will offer significant clock-for-clock performance gains, but with measurably lower power requirements. He then showed off a number of systems that featured processors built using Intel’s 45nm manufacturing process, including the Skulltrail enthusiast gaming platform.
The Skulltrail machine on display was outfitted with a pair of quad-core 45nm processors running at 3.2GHz each. The motherboard in the system was based on the X38 chipset and the machine was running a pair of GeForce graphics cards in SLI mode. This could lead you to believe X38 will “support” SLI, but that is not exactly the case. In a briefing later in the day, Stephen Smith revealed that Intel worked with NVIDIA to enable SLI for the demo machine, but did NOT confirm that NVIDIA would enable SLI on X38 for consumers.
Update: We've just got word that Intel (and perhaps some of their partners) will be using an nForce MCP on some of their X38 based motherboards, and it's these boards that will support SLI.
Pat then moved on to more talk of Nehalem and even demoed a working dual-CPU Nehalem-based machine. He revealed that in addition to SSE4, which will arrive with Penryn, Nehalem will feature 7 more SSE4 instructions. He also mentioned the Nehalem is capable of 256 simultaneous compares and called it the “ultimate CISC” core. We should note that the demo machine was running A0 CPU and chipset silicon, yet was completely functional and all 16-threads were being utilized.
At the conclusion of Mr. Gelsinger’s keynote, he reaffirmed Intel’s commitment to their “tick-tock” model and said the future 32nm Westmere and Sandy Bridge platforms are well into development and will arrive in the 2009-2010 timeframe.