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Interview with Intel Interview with Intel: We sat down with Dan Snyder of Intel and talked a bit about current and upcoming Intel technologies and overclocking.
Date: May 14, 2004
Written By:

1. Please introduce yourself.

I'm Dan Snyder, the technical PR rep, so I work on the support the Americas trade press and I promote all our latest and greatest& usually CPU technology and related items.

2. How would Intel gauge their performance in terms of product development and acceptance in 2003? Is there anything you would have liked to have done differently?

Well, I think if you look at the results in our annual report and our results for 2003, it's obvious the market shows that there is a lot of acceptance. That was in a time when the market was just starting to come out of its doldrums. We were real happy about the acceptance of the Pentium 4 processor with HT technology and also Intel Centrino technology. I think that was a real win because people saw a lot of broad acceptance for the mobility and this wireless aspect, so yeah, I don't think we have any regrets at all.

3. How would you describe Intel when it comes to product development& proactive or reactive?

If you look at our string of announcements, so for example, the 90 nanometer, the 65nm, we have several 90nm fabs up and running right now. Those are all developments spear-headed by Intel and actually, if you look at a lot of the industry standards and industry specs out there, everything from PCI Express to USB 2.0 to Serial ATA2 and AHCI, final spec. Intel has a very active role in all those committees, so I think in terms of that, it's definitely a major leader and if you do look at the things beyond the CPU as well-- the technology, the nanotechnology, etc, if you ever come to one of our IDFs, you'll see all this stuff.

4. What are some of the technologies that enthusiasts should take note of in the next 12 months?

I think the enthusiasts are going to be excited in the next 12 months. We're launching the Alderwood/Grantsdale platform this quarter--which I think you know something about. This is our next generation platform supporting PCI Express, it's going to support faster speed CPUs in the new LGA775 packaging, so that's the next generation, it's going to have Intel High Definition audio, enabling mainstream 7.1 audio on today's PCs.

You're also going to have integrated wireless access points, so integrated AP included in there, so that's the next generation in Grantsdale. Alderwood will be even little higher performance with some tuning and we'll be able to run the latest and greatest stuff. We're positioning that with kind of the latest Pentium 4 Extreme Editions coming out later this year.

5. Intel has made a big push with WiFi lately. Is this something they see a big future in?

Absolutely. You know, it's something like a huge, huge several X growth in the wireless stuff, and actually, in terms of the mobility, we've seen some data that shows over the next two, three years, notebooks are going to be 30% of the client PCs being sold from 20% today, so we're looking at just the next 3-4 years doubling, or almost doubling up to 30% of client PCs sold will be notebooks. So, this is being fueled by obviously, WiFi and the hotspots. We just announced that the San Francisco Giants, at the SBC Park, are going wireless and they're going to have wireless access for everyone there.

6. Outside of CPUs and motherboards, are there any new technologies that we expect this year?

Well, I think towards the end of the year we've announced in terms some of our fab processes, so towards the end of the year, we should be looking at some of our early samples, some of the 65nm stuff, so our next generation processing technology which pushes our entire product line. But also, PCI Express and High Definition Audio, these are pretty new big things that are really going shake up the industry, so we're on the steering committee of PCI Express industry group, and we're really involved with that quite heavily.


1. How would you describe Prescott& an evolution or a revolution?

Well, I'd say definitely evolutionary with the sweet spot in the architecture coming at faster clock speeds, which happened with Northwood and Willamette.

So with Prescott, you're seeing a lot of parity, the same speed at launch but the architecture has been designed to kind of get its legs when you get up to the higher speed, 3.6, 3.8, 4.0Ghz& stuff like that then when you have the extended pipelines and things you're able to increase clock speed and performance.

2. What can we expect to see from Prescott by the end of the year? How fast do you expect the current line of processors go before a change in architecture is needed?

Well, we publicly said in our roadmaps that were going to hit 4 gigahertz by the end of the year, so that's what were shooting for.

3. Prescott has received some criticism about the heat output. What is Intel's reply on the matter?

The bottom line is that we've almost tripled the number of transistors, so that, even though we've gone to a smaller processor, we've gone from the 0.13nm to the 9nm& when you triple the number of transistors, remember each of those transistors are being switched on and off at the rate of 3.4 gigahertz so that generates a lot of heat. The fact that they've got it down to where they got it is an amazing engineering feat. You know, so you've basically doubled the L2, the L1, you've added the PNI, Prescott New instructions, there's 64 bit instruction waiting to be unlocked in there, so you know, there's a lot of things in there that contribute to that.

Well, I know that right now, the heat is pretty much manageable but when you scale up to let's say, 4 gigahertz in a year, you're probably going to have to rethink your cooling solution. Right now, you use an aluminum heat sink with a copper slug.

They can also work some things on the architecture and the layout and the chip design to help with power, and they're actually working real closely with our mobile group to look at some of the tips and tricks they use on the Centrino technologies. They use a lot of best known methods to optimize for notebooks because you just cannot have those high heat dissipation in a notebook form factor. So they're working cross-team and looking at some of the technologies, things on the desktops, like "hey, let's make sure the leakage isn't bad, let's make sure that certain parts of the CPU can be turned off if they're not being used." And things like that. So, yeah, they're researching it.

4. With AMD now pushing 64-bit, why the delay in Intel's part?

We have a very robust 64 bit architecture and it's been out there for several years -the Itanium processor family. The high end server administrators are really embracing it, you know, so it's not like we've had our blinds up on 64-bit.

Now, about our 64-bit mainstream desktop For years we've had in the labs all kinds of different technologies and stuff so Intel is continually looking at new technologies and yeah, we're developing 64-bit and, who knows, we're probably looking at 256-bit in some lab somewhere! I've seen some pretty crazy stuff going on in the labs, but we don't want to release a product unless there's a mainstream OS out there that can run the product. I still challenge people to go out to any CompUSA or Best Buy and go buy a couple of 64-bit OS'es or games for their desktop.

Prescott will have 64-bit extensions when the ecosystem is ready. We've publicly stated that we're marching towards that right now-should be mid-year-- and that initial release would be targeted at entry level servers and workstations.

5. Clock speeds being equal, the Prescott seems to lag a bit behind the last Northwood. Why didn't they go for broke and release CPUs a lot faster instead of the same clock speeds as before?

I think it's the performance is pretty much parity Prescott versus Northwood at the same clock speed, with Prescott shining more on the video and audio applications. I know you've looked a lot of these benchmarks online, but you know some of the audio-video encode and video editing, that's where we tend to be very strong and these new instructions, a couple of the video guys are already using these new instructions and getting some benefits out of it anywhere 5, 10, 15% just right off the bat at same speed. So, it's an evolutionary thing and it'll get its legs when coming into the architecture here and reaching speeds of 3.6-4+ GHz.

6. How much longer does Intel plan on extending the Northwood's lifespan?

Were looking at Prescott being the fastest ramp ever with over half of Pentium 4s being sold being Prescott sometime by the middle of the year, so I would look at Northwood phasing out this year with some limited solutions left. There will likely be some legacy designs that require it.


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