Intel explains 45nm delays, errata

Posted on Wednesday, Jan 16 2008 @ 21:13 CET by Thomas De Maesschalck
DailyTech published an update about Intel's 45nm processors that explains the delays. Intel's engineers say it's not related to a lack of competition from AMD but because Intel discovered some stability problems at high clock frequencies:
Intel engineers, speaking on background, detailed the problem. "Intel is very sensitive to mean time to failures. During a simulation, at high clock frequencies, we noticed an increase of potential failures after a designated amount of time."

He continues, "This is not acceptable for our customers that require longterm stability. It's a showstopper."

Previous reports of errata degrading the L2 and L3 cache performance were described as "false." Microcode and BIOS updates issued by Intel since November do not fix or address the "showstopper" bug affecting the launch of the quad-core Q9300, Q9450 and Q9550 processors.

The condition does not affect Xeon quad-core processors. Intel tells DailyTech this is because Xeon uses a different stepping than the quad-core processors, which fixes this simulated condition. The quad-core 45nm Extreme Edition processor launched in November is also unaffected.

The company would not detail when the processors, originally scheduled for a January 20 launch but announced at CES last week, will see the light of day. Conservative estimates from ASUS and Gigabyte put the re-launch sometime in February. Intel completely removed its January 20 launch from its December 2007 roadmap and has not issued a new roadmap since.

Intel spokesman Dan Snyder says more. "We publicly claimed we will launch its 45nm mainstream processors in Q1 2008, and that's exactly what we did." In fact, the company announced 16 new 45nm processors last week; most of which already shipped to manufacturers -- with the exception of the quad-core desktop variants affected by the showstopper simulation bug.
Another interesting comment from Dan Snyder is that the tick-tock model prevents Intel from missing its launch dates. He says that if the "tock" team misses a target date, it doesn't affect the "tick" team.

By the way, Intel had a pretty rough day on the stock market, after the announcement of their fourth quarter financial results their stock dropped more than 11.8% today. Funnily enough, AMD's stock did almost the exact opposite, at the moment of writing their stock is up 11.6%. AMD will announce their fourth quarter financial results on Thursday.

About the Author

Thomas De Maesschalck

Thomas has been messing with computer since early childhood and firmly believes the Internet is the best thing since sliced bread. Enjoys playing with new tech, is fascinated by science, and passionate about financial markets. When not behind a computer, he can be found with running shoes on or lifting heavy weights in the weight room.

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