What is Intel doing with all that die?
December 7, 2010 8:57 PM Subscribe
Why do the specs of some non-x86 processors seem so much better than those of the latest Intel chips, even though Intel's manufacturing is more cutting-edge?
posted by Xezlec to Technology (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Sorry for the extremely nerdy question, but I figured that someone here might be in the know.
Although Intel's processors are supposed to be right at the forefront, and I know a fair amount about them, I sometimes see other companies with specifications that seem so much better that it's hard to believe. The SPARC T3, for example, offers 16 cores, each with 8-way SMT for a total of 128 simultaneous threads, and that's on a 40-nm process. The highest-end versions of Intel's 32-nm Sandy Bridge chips (which lack an on-die GPU), anticipated toward the end of next year, will max out at 8 cores, each with 2-way SMT.
The die sizes I've seen for these two chips are similar at about 370 mm2. Sandy Bridge will have up to about 14 MB more cache than the SPARC T3, but given Intel's 32-nm SRAM cell size at .182 μm2, it seems that only explains about 20 mm2 of the difference. What is Intel doing that takes up so much space, where other companies have found a way to cram in twice as many cores?