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Every time I read the word "atom," I say to myself "up and Atom" from the character "Radioactive Man" from the Simpsons. Anyway, researchers from McGill University and Sandia National Laboratories have built a circuit that has two wires that are separated by just 150 atoms, built on a 15nm process.
Circuits of this size include the usual benefits of lower power consumption and heat, as well as bringing extra functionality due to the larger transistor density. The challenges at this level, as you can imagine, are great. Dan Olds, an analyst at The Gabriel Consulting Group said of this research:
This kind of research also uncovers other potential problems arising from ever smaller shrinks. Getting to 15nm or 16nm will mean smaller and more powerful devices that are more energy efficient. But when we're talking about such a small scale, designing chips that can be mass-produced with decent yields is quite a challenge. There will also be challenges for the design of devices that will use these processors. Devices based on 15nm processes will pack more performance and functionality into much smaller form factors. Functions that used to take two or more chips will be accomplished by one transistor-jammed processor.
In an exclusive interview with NordicHardware, Managing Director of Intel Northern Europe, Pay Bliemer, revealed that Intel is currently playing with 14nm circuits and have them actually "up and running" in a lab.
Bliemer also states that whilst manufacturing technology is becoming much more complicated, Intel is still full steam ahead with their current roadmaps. Intel were the first to tap into the 32nm technology for mass production of microprocessors and by the end of Q1 2012, they will roll out their Ivy Bridge architecture sporting a 22nm process with "3D Transistors", also known as Tri-gate transistors.
Bliemer also says that by the time Ivy Bridge launches, Intel will be one and a half nodes ahead of the competition. He adds:
I wouldn't say that we have problem but there's no denying that it's getting more complicated the smaller you make something, so you're running into limitations - but our R&D as well from an architectural point of view are the guys making the manufacturing and that's within the same company - which makes Intel unique still. So we can really work extremely close with these teams. We are the same team, the guys who are going to manufacture the parts and the ones who will be designing the parts.
Our latest poll had over 3,100 people who answered, You now know everything about Sandy Bridge-E - what do you do?
This was one of the most even polls we have ran in sometime. Out in front by a small margin the option of staying on my current system took first place with 25% of the votes.
In a close second place the option of staying on an existing Sandy Bridge system took 19% of the votes, while third place went to checking out what AMD is doing.
AMD may not have released what people were expecting when they unleashed Bulldozer, but that has not stopped the CPU from selling out on retail shelves. AMD are selling out as soon as shops receive stock, even while they're not competitively priced against Intel's Core range.
Is it the "It's an 8-core CPU!!" marketing that is doing its magic here? Or are the uninformed customers grabbing it thinking this is somehow better than Intel's offerings? Most tech sites, magazines, forums, and what have you have taken a ride in the Bulldozer and not enjoyed it that much. It can beat Intel's Core i7 2600K in some tests, but overall, it's not in the same league.
Bulldozer has run over the Phenom II and Athlon II processors, which were relatively good chips with good pricing as well as selling well. Manufacturing plants however, share equipment between 45nm products and the new 32nm-based chips, so one has to be discontinued.
Faildozer strikes again, Bulldozer actually has 800 million LESS transistors than originally thought
AMD's Bulldozer "FX" series of processors have not enjoyed the lime light lately, where we could replace lime light with poo flinging and we'd be more on the mark. We've covered it a few times now and even our reviewer Shane Baxtor was not that impressed.
It got its arse handed to it in most tests, with existing platforms like the Phenom II actually beating it sometimes. Sad. But, it seems as though AMD did not even know how many transistors the Bulldozer sported, with an e-mail from Anand Lal Shimpi of AnandTech, where AMD's PR department and Anand has shared his thoughts:
This is a bit unusual. I got an email from AMD PR this week asking me to correct the Bulldozer transistor count in our Sandy Bridge E review. The incorrect number, provided to me (and other reviewers) by AMD PR around 3 months ago was 2 billion transistors. The actual transistor count for Bulldozer is apparently 1.2 billion transistors. I don't have an explanation as to why the original number was wrong, just that the new number has been triple checked by my contact and is indeed right. The total die area for a 4-module/8-core Bulldozer remains correct at 315 mm².
Some Ivy Bridge details have been leaked, and CPU World have them split across two articles that cover no less than 18 different CPU models. Ivy Bridge looks to be a native quad-core design with 8MB of last-level cache, just like Sandy Bridge.
Hyper-Threading makes its return, but only with the more expensive Core i7 range of processors, like Sandy Bridge. Turbo Boost also returns, but strangely, there is no mention of Core i3. The only dual-core chip amongst the 18 models is the Core i5-3470T, which sports four threads thanks to Hyper-Threading.
It looks as though Intel is preparing to retire the Celeron name and replace it with Pentium. Intel's Pentium name has been with us for over ten years now, and debuted as the high-end of processors for notebooks and desktops when it first stepped into the limelight.
Intel has positioned the Pentium line between the high-end Core range and the low-end Celeron range, but are reportedly aiming a new processor for its Pentium line in the server market. The new processor is the Pentium 350 and it is aimed at low-end servers. The Pentium 350 is a dual-core part, featuring 3MB cache and a low power draw of just 15W.
Personally, I think we're at the edge of where we'll see more performance from CPUs as games become more reliant on GPUs, console ports and better coding. Why would we require 12-cores at 4GHz each? When will it end?
Well, Intel's Ivy Bridge is the next step for Intel, coming spring 2012. Chinese website Coolaler has gotten their mits on an engineering sample of Intel's 22nm-based Ivy Bridge platform. They've scored a quad-core chip, and have some screenshots of CPU-Z and Task Manager (without HyperThreading enabled).
While AMD's Bulldozer was not only bulldozed, but piledrived by Intel's Ivy Bridge (and sometimes, Sandy Bridge), AMD's next-generation APU "Trinity" is beginning to take form. Now we have some internal benchmark slides leaked. As you'll see below, they're a bit low-res and grainy, but you'll get the picture:
AMD is promising some decent improvements over the current "Llano" APU, and as the benchmarks are spread across three tests, for visual performance, general performance and parallel compute, they use 3DMark Vantage, PCMark Vantage and calculated CTP SP GFLOPs, respectively. In 3DMark Vantage, Trinity A8 (quad-core), A6 (triple-core), and A4 (dual-core) APUs are seeing a rough 32-percent improvement over their Llano-based competition.
If you're just getting over this week's launch of Intel's Sandy Bridge-E CPUs, you might want to hold your breath just a little bit longer. Less than a week since its launch, Sandy Bridge-E is now sounding old with its successor taking shape over at Intel, with a release date for Q4 2012.
That's not the good part, the good part is that according to a leaked internal slide scored at XFastest, Ivy Bridge-E will be compatible with today's Intel X79 platform, and LGA2011 socket. This makes a SB-E upgrade that much better, as 12 months from now you can just buy an Ivy Bridge-E CPU, slot it in and away you go. You might need a BIOS flash to get there, but it makes a SB-E upgrade not so scary.