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IDF: Not all Intel Nehalem CPUs single-die

Intel's Pat Gelsinger and Jim Brayton show off a 45nm 'Nehalem' wafer

Following Intel's eight-core Nehalem CPU announcement at IDF, can exclusively reveal that not all members of the new 45nm processor family will be based on a single-die design.

Earlier today, Intel's CEO Paul Otellini unambiguously revealed that the upcoming eight-core version of Nehalem will be based on a single CPU die. That's a change in tactic compared with Intel's current quad-core CPUs which are actually composed of a pair of dual-core dies.

Integrated graphics core

However, Otellini also said that some variants of Nehalem will sport an integrated graphics core. And that's where the multi-chip tech comes in.

According to our sources, Nehalem processors with integrated graphics will actually be built using two separate chips or dies packed into a single processor package. One die will contain the processing cores, the other the memory controller and integrated graphics core.

For now, it's not known what impact the multi-chip approach might have on performance. But it will give Intel more manufacturing flexibility and perhaps allow it to support new memory technologies more rapidly. Instead of requiring a respin of a monolithic single-die CPU, memory support can be upgraded simply by revising the secondary controller chip.

Intel's Nehalem family of processors is due to roll out in dual and quad-core form in the second half of 2008. Intel plans to wheel out the flagship eight-core chip in 2009.