Leaked Intel slides show 8-core CPUs, AVX
Surely it is not exactly the biggest secret in the world. But Intel's upcoming processor generations will double the number of cores per chip and add a brand new language for specialized code, according to leaked slides obtained by CanardPlus. Although the semiconductor company's Core i7 will just receive a manufacturing process shrink down from 45 nanometers to 32 during 2009, reducing its power use and allowing more complex parts, a replacement architecture codenamed Sandy Bridge will replace it by 2010 and double the number of cores per die to eight. Hyperthreading support will let it handle as many as 16 code threads at once, while a large 16MB pool of Level 3 cache will be shared to make best use of the cores.
The most important advancement of Sandy Bridge is nonetheless described as software, according to the roadmap outlined in the slides. Intel will reportedly introduce a new instruction set termed Advanced Vector Extensions (AVX) that will ultimately supercede the Streaming SIMD Extensions (SSE) found in today's Core 2 and eventual Core i7 designs. The improvement will double the size of instructions to 256 bits and will optionally perform as many as four calculations in a single instruction. AVX will also be extensible and let Intel add new code over time to improve features without changing the hardware itself.
The extensions should accelerate performance in media encoding, 3D modeling, and other areas where vector-based math has been used in the past to accelerate performance.
Even longer-term plans for Intel hardware have also been revealed and focus on Haswell, a 22 nanometer architecture for 2012 that would deliver more substantial changes; it will have a new memory cache system as well as "revolutionary" power management. It will also finally support the ability to both add and multiply in a single instruction and potentially result in much more simplified code than processors which can only perform one type of math operation at a time.
Intel is believed to be confirming some or all of this information at next week's Intel Developer Forum, which will primarily focus on Core i7.