|Ars Technica wrote:|
|We suspected as much, and Intel has confirmed it: the dual-core Pentium 4 was a hack. Speaking at the Hot Chips conference in advance of next week's Intel Developers Forum, Intel engineer Jonathan Douglas said that the dual-core Smithfield was rushed out the door because of competitive pressures from AMD. "We were behind," and Intel needed a "competitive response" to the dual-core CPUs in development by its rival.
Smithfield made it through testing and out the door in about nine months, which is remarkably quick by Intel standards. The need to get a dual-core CPU into the market as a response to AMD meant that Smithfield lacked features of the dual-core Opteron and Athlon 64 like independent memory buses for each core. In addition, the need to put two Pentium 4 cores on a single die led to additional signaling problems as the transistors were even closer together on the new dual-core CPUs.
Since the release of Smithfield, Intel has been working hard on its next generation of dual-core CPUs. The company has moved up the debut of the dual-core Xeon (Paxville) from early 2006 to the fourth quarter of this year (which will allow Dell to finally offer an alternative to the dual-core Opterons). Unlike Smithfield, Paxville will feature a dedicated memory controller for each core on the CPU.
At the IDF next week, Intel is expected to provide an update on the progress of its next-generation CPUs. Merom and its brethren are all departures from the Pentium 4's Netburst architecture, based on the Pentium M instead. Fabbed at 65nm, those CPUs are expected to start shipping in 2Q/3Q 2006, and may very well power the first generation of Apple's Intel machines.