Intel Roadmap Introduction

We've skipped a lot of the corporate and enterprise discussion for most of our recent Intel roadmaps. There's a good reason for the omission: very little had changed from the previous roadmaps. Every time we see a new Intel roadmap, the amount of information compressed into the 60 to 80 slides is simply staggering. Desktop, Mobile, Server, Enterprise, and Internet Appliance plans are included, and that's just the broad categories. Within each of those you find information on the chipsets, motherboards, and sometimes cases and other details. With few exceptions, there is almost always enough content for a couple articles, though you often need to dig a little deeper to find the interesting bits. We've got several pieces coming out of our latest Intel roadmap, with this article focusing primarily on the corporate sector.

Besides the information density of their roadmaps, devoting large portions to the needs of businesses and corporations is one of the things that really sets Intel apart from AMD right now. Sure, AMD has the faster desktop parts, and there are many AMD adherents that feel that should be enough for anyone looking to purchase a new computer. That is, simply put, a distorted view of the world. For home users and enthusiasts, that attitude makes a lot of sense. As much as I like my AMD systems, though, if I were to start a business that had 25 or more computers, there's a good chance I'd be running Intel systems, and there's a good chance they would come from Dell (or some other large OEM). How can that be!? Am I not an enthusiast? That's near-blasphemy! Before any of you begin leveling charges of Intel favoritism, let me explain.

If I were running a medium-sized or larger business, as much as I would like to have faster systems, taking the time to hand-build that many PCs is simply not making good use of time. Businesses normally want identical PCs (in order to simplify support), they want better warranties, they want one point of contact, and they want all of the systems assembled and delivered in a relatively short time frame. Higher performance that might enable employees to play games would actually be a bad thing, so sticking with an integrated graphics solution unless something faster is required would be a good idea. Finally, businesses don't want some fly-by-night shop to disappear after building the systems, leaving them to deal with problems on their own.

Until AMD can get partners that focus on bringing out Corporate/Enterprise desktop systems - not just "Small or Medium Business" systems - with AMD processors, most companies won't consider switching. (Incidentally, we're actually testing some AMD SMB systems right now, and they've left a good impression. It's unfortunate that they aren't billed as Large Business systems, though.)

Before we continue with the roadmap, we found some information at the end of the roadmap that can serve as a helpful glossary and/or technology primer. Intel throws around code names, acronyms, and technical jargon with wild abandon in their roadmaps, and we tend to follow suit. (We would guess that there are at least 50 code names listed in any given roadmap!) We'll use quite a few of these terms throughout many of our roadmap articles, so it's only fair to give you a quick cheatsheet.

Intel Technology Glossary
Feature Description
Hyper-Threading Technology (HTT) Improves CPU utilization by processing two software threads on one core.
64-bit computing / Intel EM64T 64-bit computing and related instructions.
Demand Based Switching (DBS) with EIST Enables server/workstation platform to go into reduced power state during periods of low use.
PCI Express Next generation serial I/O technology offering scalable bandwidth up to 8 Gigabits/Second.
DDR2 Memory Enables faster memory and increased memory bandwidth at lower power compared to DDR.
Dual Core Improves processor throughput by increasing CPU resources.
Intel I/O Acceleration Technology (I/OAT) Platform level I/O acceleration based on improvements in the Processor; MCH and LAN (ESB2 or NIC).
FBD (Fully Buffered DIMM) Memory Next generation memory technology that uses DDR2 DRAMS in a serial point-to-point interconnect.
Intel Active Management Technology (IAMT) System state-independent access to management functions and asset data.
Intel Virtualization Technology (VT) Hardware enhancements to the processor enabling Improved virtualization solutions.
Pellston Certain cache errors can be handled without restarting the system.
Foxton Enables CPU to operate at increased frequency when CPU power is below specified max levels.

You know things are complex when the simplified definitions of terms include cross references and even self-references. Virtualization Technology enables improved virtualization solutions? Who would have guessed? If you'd like additional explanations of what some of the terms mean, feel free to ask and we'll do our best to answer. Several of the above features that are summarized with a single sentence could easily be the topic of a lengthy article.
Stable Image Platform Program
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  • yorthen - Monday, September 12, 2005 - link

    Yes, I've heard a lot about VT and AMT but never found any good explanation of how it actually works. I understand that using VT will enable Xen to run unmodified OSes, but what is it that VT does that a normal processor can not, and how does it compare to AMD's virtualisation-technology?

    And what about AMT, which is supposed to provide OS-independent management capabilities, what kind of operations does it allow?

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