Fall 2003 IDF

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David Kanter served as a reporter for Real World Technologies at Fall 2003 IDF in San Jose. This is an article that covers some of the significant topics discussed and presented at IDF, including DDRII, Serial ATA and virtualization.

IDF started off with an enthusiastic keynote from Paul Otellini, COO of Intel. He waxed on the future of Intel’s high performance MPUs and revealed that Chip Multi-Processing (CMP) would make its way into both the IA32 and IA64 lines. While side-stepping a question regarding the project leader for Tanglewood, Otellini did reveal that the EV7 and EV8 design teams have been combined for Tanglewood. Hence, it is highly likely that Tanglewood will also incorporate an EV7 style router and interconnect fabric that allows for high bandwidth, low latency links between adjacent cores. On the IA32 side, Tulsa, the follow up to Nocona, will have dual cores in addition to the 2 way simultaneous multithreading already present in Netburst derivatives. These were quite interesting revelations, but the rest of the conference focused on a wider variety of topics, especially wireless and communications technology.

This IDF marked the launch of PCI Express, a much needed and promising technology. PCI Express is a high speed point to point packetized serial interconnect that is positioned to co-exist with and eventually replace PCI and PCI-X. A single ‘lane’ of PCI Express has a bandwidth of 2.5Gb/s in each direction (5Gb/s total), and for higher bandwidth, up to 32 lanes can be used between two devices. PCI Express will be a nearly immediate replacement for AGP, with both ATI and Nvidia targeting their new high end video cards for PCI Express. However, it is likely that the larger and less unified peripheral market will take longer to transition to this new platform, with PCI and PCI-X co-existing with PCI Express for several years as ISA did (and does) with PCI.

While PCI Express is an important step in computing, there are several other technologies that will help to improve performance in desktop, laptop and server platforms in the future, notably DDRII, Serial ATA and virtualization.

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