Intel may release new Nehalem chips next month

Sources say shipments of high-performance PC, server chips appear imminent

Intel Corp. next month will start shipping new server, laptop and desktop processors based on its new Nehalem microarchitecture, an industry source said today.

The Nehalem microarchitecture promises improved performance by cutting down on bottlenecks that plague Intel's current chips. Nehalem chips are also able to execute more tasks while drawing less power, according to Intel.

The industry source with knowledge of Intel's plans said the company will deliver new Xeon server processors belonging to the 5500 and 3500 chip families starting in early August. Chip specifics weren't immediately available, the source said.

An online report in DigiTimes Monday added that the chip giant will bring its latest chip microarchitecture to high-end mainstream desktops and laptops starting in September.

The company will launch quadcore desktop chips code-named Lynnfield in early September, followed by quadcore laptop chips code-named Clarksfield later in the month, according to the report, which cited industry sources.

Intel officials declined comment, saying the company doesn't talk about rumors. "But I can say that Lynnfield and Clarksfield are on track for second half 2009 production," an Intel spokesman said in an e-mail.

The Lynnfield and Clarksfield chips will be manufactured using the 45-nanometer process, according to Intel's road map, and they should be shipped before the company's shift to the more efficient 32nm manufacturing process later this year.

The company will also launch chips for new ultrathin laptops -- the Celeron SU2300 and Celeron 743 processors -- in September, according to the DigiTimes report.

This will be the first time Nehalem-based chips will reach mainstream audiences, after being mainly reserved for expensive systems like servers and gaming PCs. Nehalem integrates a memory controller into a CPU and provides a faster pipe for the processor to communicate with system components like a graphics card and other chips. It also allows execution of two software threads simultaneously, so a system with four processor cores could run eight threads simultaneously for quicker application performance. The chips will be manufactured using the 45nm process.

While the new Nehalem chips may be limited to higher-priced desktops and laptops initially, lower-priced systems could start seeing new chips when Intel switches to the 32nm process. The 32nm chips will integrate a graphics processor and CPU in one chip, which could boost graphics performance while drawing less power than existing processors.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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