There are a number of trade shows dedicated to semiconductors, and one of the ones I find the most exciting is HotChips -- which is specifically for high-performance processors and will be held in late August this year. Each year, many of the top semiconductor companies present papers describing some of their latest technologies. This year, Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) appears to be set to present three very interesting papers on three very interesting chips.
First up, Knights Landing
The first paper Intel plans to present is "Knights Landing: 2nd Generation Intel 'Xeon Phi' Processor." Intel has been talking a lot about its Knights Landing chip, and from the details Intel has given out so far, it looks like it could be quite a compelling offering for the high-performance computing market.
Given that Intel typically only presents papers on products that have been launched into the market, this seems to imply that Intel will launch the product sometime before its planned August 25 presentation of the chip's details.
I'm hoping Intel will do a deep dive into the architecture and give some performance numbers for the chip as well.
Xeon D exposed, too
Intel also recently began shipping a dense, server-oriented Xeon processor known as Xeon D. Intel describes this as its "first Xeon processor optimized for dense solutions," so hopefully there will be plenty of innovation in store for future Xeon D processors.
At any rate, since these chips are available (and since Intel apparently held a press briefing on the chip), a lot of information is known about it. We have a good idea of how it performs, how many CPU cores it has, and so on. However, I suspect at HotChips, Intel will reveal some more interesting technical details about the chip that currently aren't well known; I can't wait!
Finally, Cherry Trail
The last presentation from Intel will be on its 14-nanometer Cherry Trail low-power Atom processor for tablets. Although the performance and basic architecture of this chip are generally known, there are a lot of nitty-gritty details I hope Intel will finally give us.
For example, Intel hasn't talked about transistor counts of its Atom processors as of late. Given that Intel will be presenting details of its 14-nanometer system-on-chip process at the VLSI Symposium in June, this would be a great place to show off just how dense Intel's engineers were able to make the design by giving out a transistor count.
I'd also be interested to learn more about the changes, if any, that Intel made with the Airmont CPU core over Silvermont. The initial performance numbers for the best Cherry Trail chip inside of, say, the Atom X7-8700 point to essentially no performance gains from Silvermont.
From these numbers, it's not unreasonable to conclude that Airmont was just a straight movement of the Silvermont core to 14-nanometer. However, back in 2013, when Intel did a detailed disclosure of its Silvermont core, Belli Kuttanna implied that there were interesting changes made to Airmont that he looked forward to discussing in 2014.
Intel has a very compelling set of products here that it will be interesting to hear more about. We've got a low-power system-on-chip for tablets, a highly integrated power-efficient server chip, and a performance beast.
That said, there are a number of chips missing that I hope Intel goes into more detail about at the Intel Developer Forum in August. In particular, I'd like to learn more about Skylake (which is reportedly launching at that event) and its accompanying platform controller hub. Some details on Broadwell-H for higher-performance/power notebooks would also be quite welcome.
At any rate, I look forward to seeing what Intel -- and others -- have to show at HotChips.
Ashraf Eassa owns shares of Intel. The Motley Fool recommends Intel. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.