News: Sandybridge, Bulldozer and UEFI

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Microprocessor industry analyst David Kanter recently posted a detailed analysis of Intel's upcoming Sandy Bridge Microarchitecture at Real World Technologies, describing it as the "most ambitious and aggressive microprocessors designed at Intel." It touches on the Atom as well as the new AMD Bobcat and Bulldozer microprocessors as well.

"The Sandy Bridge CPU cores can truly be described as a brand new microarchitecture that is a synthesis of the P6 and some elements of the P4. Although Sandy Bridge most strongly resembles the P6 line, it is an utterly different microarchitecture. Nearly every aspect of the core has been substantially improved over the previous generation Nehalem. Many of these changes, such as the uop cache or physical register files, are drawn from aspects of or concepts behind the P4 microarchitecture. While the P4 was ultimately a flawed implementation, it embodied many good ideas – ideas that are reappearing across the industry, and in Sandy Bridge. The underlying philosophy of Intel’s approach to CPU design is to focus on maximizing per-core performance and efficiency. This is a contrast to AMD’s Bulldozer, which backs off slightly from per-core performance to emphasize aggregate throughput."

Meanwhile, work on the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface is happening on many fronts to break free of legacy limitations of the BIOS. UEFI may feature on motherboards released before the end of the year. A succinct summary by AMI's Brian Richardson.

"Drive Size Limits - The issue facing most customers this year is booting to a drive over two terabytes (2TB) in size.
"Pre-Boot Networking - Next is networking and the coming day when our various connected devices use up every IP address on the planet.
"Pre-Boot Applications - UEFI’s documented interfaces for boot and runtime services give developers a clean method of accessing essential routines without the need for an OS kernel or driver stack. Even graphical interfaces are possible."

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