Monday, August 25, 2008

Notes from Intel Developers Forum

Intel Developer Forum (IDF) was held 19th-21st August last week. Intel seems to be focussed on three key markets: (i) Mobile Internet Devices (MIDs) (ii) Converged internet and multimedia, and (iii) High-end enterprise solutions. Intel is targeting these markets with the following processors respectively (i)Intel Atom which is sized smaller than a quarter coin but has as many transistors as the Pentium IV, (ii) Intel Media Processor CE 3100, and (iii) Intel Nehalem which is Intel's first foray into a NUMA architecture with high memory bandwidth using the Intel Quickpath Interconnect (QPI) technology.

The plenary talks revolved around the above. Out of a gamut of applications and gadgets talked about, I found two interesting. The first is Gypsii, an unique application combining the mobile computing and social networking. On a mobile device, such as your IPhone, you can locate all your friends on a map, and instantly communicate with them like hooking up for lunch. The other is a TV internet widget jointly developed b Intel and Yahoo (see press release here. With this widget, you will have a toolbar at the bottom of your television screen with which you can check your mail, stocks, weather, news, and what not.

Many of the technical sessions were based on parallel computing and the Nehalem architecture. Nehalem seems to have improved branch prediction, better unaligned cache handling, improved store and load performance, besides significantly higher interconnect bandwidth which should help in faster memory access and better I/O. That seems to indicate that Nehalem will have great 10 GigE network I/O, so it will be fun to do some performance characterization and analysis on a Nehalem box. Besides there was a 2 hour session on the Intel Advanced Vector Extensions (AVX) ins which is expected in 2010. AVX will be operating on 256-bit registers allowing for increased vectorization and 256-bit add, multiply and shuffle operations.

All presentation materials from IDF are now publicly available here.