Most of you should be aware that Intel's current quad-core processors are actually a pair of dual-core CPUs packed into a single package. And, according to the latest Intel roadmap leaks, there's more cramming to be done yet. The next, and logical, stage is to cram a trio of dual-core chips onto a single die and that is exactly what Intel is planning, under the codename Dunnington.
As well as adding another pair of cores Dunnington will also pack 16MB of L3 cache, shared between all six cores, in addition to the 3MB of L2 cache pooled between the core pairs themselves. Currently these are only slated for use in server setups under the Xeon banner, but knowing Intel consumer products would doubtless follow soon after.
Better still the new chips are purported to be pin-compatible with boards designed for Tigerton processors and the chipsets designed to run them. Adding another two cores while keeping the CPU a drop-in replacement is no mean feat of engineering, so kudos to Intel's engineers for that one.
Dunnington is slated for a launch some time in the second half of this year, some time before Nehalem at the end of the year, and will almost certainly be the last change to the current Core 2 chips. No doubt more details will be released nearer the time of the official launch, but things definitely look set to get interesting in 2008 - it will be interesting to see what, if anything, AMD can respond with.