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Home » CPU
Inside Intel Nehalem Microarchitecture
Author: Gabriel Torres 107,287 views
Type: Tutorials Last Updated: August 26, 2008
Page: 1 of 7

Nehalem is the codename of the new Intel CPU with integrated memory controller that will reach the market next month and that will be called Core i7; this architecture will also be used on CPUs targeted to servers (Xeon) and, a few years from now, it will also be used on entry-level CPUs. CPUs based on this architecture will have an embedded memory controller supporting three DDR3 channels, three cache levels, the return of Hyper-Threading technology, a new external bus called QuickPath and more. In this tutorial we will explain what’s new on this architecture.

Below we summarized a list of Nehalem main features, and we will explain what they mean in the next pages:

  • Based on Intel Core microarchitecture.
  • Two to eight cores.
  • Integrated DDR3 triple-channel memory controller.
  • Individual 256 KB L2 memory caches for each core.
  • 8 MB L3 memory cache.
  • New SSE 4.2 instruction set (seven new instructions).
  • Hyper-Threading technology.
  • Turbo mode (auto overclocking).
  • Enhancements to the microarchitecture (support for macro-fusion under 64-bit mode, improved Loop Stream Detector, six dispatch ports, etc).
  • Enhancements on the prediction unit, with the addition of a second Branch Target Buffer (BTB).
  • A second 512-entry Translation Look-aside Buffer (TLB).
  • Optimized for unaligned SSE instructions.
  • Improved virtualization performance (60% improvement on round-trip virtualization latency compared to 65-nm Core 2 CPUs and 20% improvement compared to 45-nm Core 2 CPUs, according to Intel).
  • New QuickPath Interconnect external bus.
  • New power control unit.
  • 45 nm manufacturing technology at launch, with future models at 32 nm (CPUs codenamed “Westmere”).
  • New socket with 1366 pins.

It is important to remember that Core 2 CPUs manufactured under 45-nm technology have extra features compared to the Core 2 CPUs manufactured under 65-nm technology. All these features are present on Nehalem-based CPUs are the most significant ones are:

  • SSE4.1 instruction set (47 new SSE instructions).
  • Deep Power Down Technology (only on mobile CPUs, also known as C6 state).
  • Enhanced Intel Dynamic Acceleration Technology (only on mobile CPUs).
  • Fast Radix-16 Divider (FPU enhancement).
  • Super Shuffle engine (FPU enhancement).
  • Enhanced Virtualization Technology (between 25% and 75% performance improvement on virtual machine transition time).

Now let’s discuss in details the most significant differences introduced by this new architecture.

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