Intel’s Merom Unveiled

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Intel’s Developer Forum (IDF) for Spring 2006 has a rather obvious focus: the announcement of Intel’s next generation microarchitecture. Intel’s new core will almost certainly leapfrog arch-rival AMD for integer and commercial computing performance. That alone should make this IDF one of the most exciting in the last several years.

The most recent x86 microarchitecture was the Yonah core out of Israel, which is loosely derived from the venerable Pentium Pro (P6) design. Unfortunately, Intel opted to disclose fewer details for Yonah than for the 180nm Pentium 4, which was announced with much fanfare and thorough documentation. While Intel will withhold some details about the Next Generation Microarchitecture for later publication, this will be the first opportunity for the industry to get a detailed look at a new x86 microarchitecture.

Intel’s new core is known by a variety of names. The family of processors was previously described as the Next-Generation Micro-Architecture (NGMA), but is being productized as the “Core Microarchitecture”. As Intel roadmaps have indicated, Merom is the laptop variant, Conroe is for the desktop and Woodcrest is aimed at the single and dual socket server market. For the purposes of this article we will refer to the new microarchitecture as Merom.

This article will provide an overview of the Merom microarchitecture, and a detailed analysis of key sections and features in the context of Intel’s existing P4 and Yonah MPUs.

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