Intelligent Power, Software Implications and Final Thoughts

Intelligent Power Capability

Since the base for this new architecture was the Dothan core used in the mobile market and from the same design team, it makes sense that we would see many additions to the power capabilities of the core. 

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First they have integrated an ultra fine grained power control system that allows them to turn off portions of either core that are not in use.  Looking at the block diagram that Intel had been showing us throughout the day, the green areas here indicate portions of the CPU that are NOT in use and could thus be turned off.  Interestingly this means that even smaller portions inside each of these execution units can be turned off saving power more often than we could previously. 

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Another way Intel’s engineers saved power was by allowing the internal busses between the ALUs and other units to be turned down to the data size of the information they are working on. When these 128-bit ALUs are only working on 32-bit data, they could theoretically keep power down on much of the bus width, saving power and battery life.

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The thermal detection on the new Intel Core Architecture is very robust as well.  There are several digital thermal sensors located at various hot spots on the core that can each independently report their temperature to the internal logic on-die.  This logic scans for the highest temperature at any given time and reports that over the external system bus to an external device.

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This could, for example, be a hardware monitor manager that can accurately control the various fan speeds for different processors in an MP system. 

Software Implications on the new Intel Architecture

For Intel, the affect all of these hardware changes will have on software is obviously incredibly important.  If any developer needed to retool their software in order to take advantage of these performance changes, the realization of these new features would be much slower.  Luckily for us, Intel claims that their wider execution pathway has a generic performance advantage for all applications and is completely transparent to the user and developer. 

The other features will give specific advantages to applications that utilize them.  The Smart Memory Access feature will help the memory-bound applications dramatically and the Advanced Digital Media Boost feature should add to the performance Intel has in media encoding applications and the like. 

Specifically for multi-threaded applications, all Merom, Conroe and Woodcrest processors will be dual core so the benefits to them will be automatic.  The new Advanced Smart Cache will also increase performance in multithreaded applications when the need to access both cores cache data is required. 

Also, with a single architecture across all the platforms including mobile, desktop and server, the software development community will be more likely to jump on-board and make specific optimizations for the new Intel Core architecture; though the best part is that it looks like they won’t have to for us to see the benefit of these cores in the real world.

Final Thoughts

Without a doubt, after spending so much time here at IDF, talking about, playing, and seeing the Conroe in action, I am very excited about the future products that Intel is going to be bringing to market this year.  I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see a dramatic shift in the enthusiast community as well; we always seem to latch onto the best of the best. 

Hopefully soon we’ll be able to tell you for sure if Merom, Conroe and Woodcrest are the saviors that Intel has needed for several years. 

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