Future Core i7 plans

As mentioned before, this next generation Intel microarchitecture goes by the code-name 'Nehalem', a name many of you have probably seen floating around for quite some time now.

Nehalem will come in variants for desktops, servers and notebooks. The first series under the Core i7 brand goes by the codename 'Bloomfield' which are 45nm processors featuring 4-cores with Hyper-threading.

Also in the works we know of Westmere, Clarkdale, Beckton, Gainestown, Lynnfield, Clarksfield, Havendale, and Auburndale. Quite the mouthful, huh?

We know Beckton will be a four-socket server CPU, while Gainestown is the dual-socket version. As for the desktop, we expect that eventually the Bloomfield processors that we are reviewing today will be replaced by Westmere cores that will bring a number of enhancements.

High-end processors based on the Westmere core will feature 6-cores (12 threads) and will be built using the 32nm design process. The cores will feature a 12 MB shared L3 cache and will also be able to use a further improved quad-channel DDR3 memory and a 4x QuickPath bus interface. All of this is not expected until late 2009 or perhaps the first half of 2010.

Today's Bloomfield processors, as well as their Westmere future successors, are designed to use the new LGA1366 socket which is not compatible with previous LGA775 processors.

Other future desktop cores like Lynnfield and Havendale will not use the same LGA1366 socket. Rather they will require motherboards using a smaller LGA1156 socket. The fact that we are once again foreseeing two different CPU sockets from Intel is interesting (but certainly not encouraged). When Lynnfield and Havendale come out in late 2009, they are expected to only support dual-channel DDR3 memory and therefore become a value solution for consumers.

Inevitably, a mobile version of Nehalem is also expected to arrive but not until late 2009. The performance mobile processors (Clarksfield) will be very similar to the Lynnfield desktop core, meaning they are quad-core parts featuring an 8MB L3 cache and carrying support for dual-channel DDR3 memory.

Another very exciting upcoming mobile chip is called 'Auburndale'. Although these are mainstream dual-core processors with 4MB of L3 cache, they will incorporate an on-die GPU (Ironlake). This is expected to be Intel’s first GPU on CPU design.