The most widely-recognized annual trade show focused on new microprocessor technologies will be celebrating its 15th year this week in San Jose. Microprocessor Forum is operated by Micro Design Resources, purveyors of the noteworthy and trusted industry trade journal called Microprocessor Report. Through the years "MP Forum" has become an important communications vehicle for processor vendors to promote their existing and upcoming technologies to their customers. The technical trade press benefits by gathering new product information and hobnobbing with processor architects to get the real gory details. Historically, many of technical sessions can get pretty detailed, going far down into the superscalar out-of-order pipeline depths, and we love it! Next week should be no exception, and we'll be providing day-by-day coverage of forum happenings and breaking news in processor space, so be sure to stop by and check it out.
Unfortunately, this year we don't expect many groundbreaking new processor announcements, but rather much more information presented on a number of previously announced upcoming processors for desktop, mobile, server, and embedded processor spaces. But we will see a category of processors dubbed "Extreme Processor" (yes, we like that name...), which are tailored to special functions, and they may be very interesting indeed. To give you an idea of some of the cool things we're expecting to see next week, read on. For a detailed conference agenda you can also visit the MicroDesign Resources site.
The conference begins Monday with two full day training sessions on microprocessor architectures given by MDR staff. Tuesday and Wednesday include the actual conference sessions and panels, and then another full day of training sessions on Thursday. One of the microprocessor industry's leading luminaries, John Crawford, is going to deliver the opening keynote Tuesday morning titled "The Billion-Transistor Budget: A Different Kind of Real-Estate Development". If you don't know John, we're sure you've used some of the Intel products he's architected and helped design. He was the Chief Architect for the Intel 386, he lead design teams on the 486, co-managed Pentium development, headed architecture research on IA-64, and is now working on future processors as an Intel Fellow in their Enterprise Platforms Group.
John's a great guy with much patience - for example, back in 1993, I had over 40 technical questions to ask him regarding the Pentium's internal design after he helped deliver the standard marketing presentation to PC Magazine. He answered each question completely and clearly, though it did take us well into dinner.
Anyway, John's session should be quite interesting, as he explores how new manufacturing process technologies will impact future processor designs. Based on the progression of Moore's Law, far more transistors will continue to jammed into the same-size or smaller silicon footprints as today's processors, and microprocessor architects will have much latitude to add many more features (beyond simply increasing cache sizes). Expanded Hyper-Threading implementations and multi-core designs immediately come to mind as being very significant, but we can't wait to hear what John has to say - he's had some pretty good insights and successes in the past!
For more on Nick's preview of the MP Forum, go to