Intel 'Braidwood' chip targets snappier software

Intel appears ready to take another crack at flash memory-based acceleration--this time offering it with future chipsets.
"Braidwood is a flash memory technology that provides faster boot-up time, faster application launch, and a snappier, more responsive system," said Rob Crooke, vice president and general manager of Intel's Business Client Group, speaking during a presentation streamed over the Web from the Computex conference in Taipei, Taiwan, earlier this week.

Braidwood will be offered with the future "5 Series" chipset family--which is Intel's first single-chip chipset--and the future "Clarkdale" processor (see discussion below).

The architecture accelerates I/O (input/output) accesses by saving that data to flash memory, according to Crooke. In a demonstration at Computex, Crooke showed Braidwood "caching the I/O...And then, when it launches that application again, it happens very quickly," he said.

Intel's first stab at technology analogous to Braidwood came in 2006. That product was code-named Robson and eventually branded as Turbo Memory. But it only received lukewarm reviews and was never adopted widely.

"Clarkdale," a Nehalem-based processor, will be offered with Braidwood, according to Intel documentation released at Computex. Clarkdale will integrate graphics silicon into the same package as the main processor. It is on track to begin production in the fourth quarter of this year--with systems available in 2010--and is built on Intel's second-generation 32-nanometer process technology. Clarkdale will be offered with the Intel 5 Series chipset.

On another front, Crooke also talked about the mainstreaming of Intel's Nehalem Core i7 desktop chips, which are currently limited to high-end enthusiast systems. Due later this year, the "Lynnfield" processor is a new four-core, eight-thread processor that will be paired with the P55 Express chipset. Threads essentially double the number of tasks a processor can perform.

Users can expect 40 percent better performance on widely used SPECint benchmarks with the Lynnfield-based platform, compared with last year's mainstream Core Q9650 processor-based technology, Crooke said.

BY Brooke Crothers

Brooke Crothers is a former editor at large at CNET, and has been an editor for the Asian weekly version of the Wall Street Journal. He writes for the CNET Blog Network, and is not a current employee of CNET. Contact him at Disclosure.

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