Intel shows off PCs, servers built on Lynnfield processors

Intel showed off a number of new computer systems and at least 40 new motherboards built by partners for new Intel microprocessors that officially launched on Tuesday, nearly a month after the chips were first spotted at computer markets in Taipei.

The company launched three new quad-core processors formerly codenamed Lynnfield, and aimed at desktop computers, as well as the new Xeon 3400 series processors aimed at low-cost servers. The chips use Intel's new Nehalem architecture.

One special note to the event was the P55 Express chipset from Intel, the first ever from the company that is only one chip instead of two, said Navin Shenoy, general manager of the Asia Pacific region at Intel, speaking at a news conference in Taipei. In a news release, Intel called it the most revolutionary design change for the chipset since the early 1990s.

Chipsets are the pair of chips known as the northbridge and southbridge inside a computer that regulate the flow of data traffic between the microprocessor and other components, such as graphics and memory. Intel was able to turn the P55 Express chipset into a single chip by transferring some of its workload directly onto the Lynnfield microprocessors, such as giving them integrated memory controllers. The chipset is a sign of the future because Intel and AMD are working on putting more and more chipset and graphics functions directly onto the microprocessor.

Dozens of new motherboards built for the new Lynnfield microprocessors, the Core i5-750, Core i7-860 and Core i7-870, were on display at the Intel event in Taipei, launched by the leading makers, including Asustek Computer, Gigabyte Technology, Micro-Star International (MSI), Elitegroup Computer Systems and Foxconn Technology.

Several PC vendors also showed off computer systems, giving an idea how much a new computer with the new Intel microprocessors will cost.

A new PC from GenuinePC of Taipei with an Intel Core i7-860 2.8GHz quad core microprocessor inside, 500GB hard disk drive (HDD), 4GB of DDR3 (double data rate, third generation) DRAM, Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium and a free upgrade coupon for Windows 7, as well as Nvidia 9800GT graphics and a Blu-ray Disc combo drive will be on sale for NT$39,980 (US$1,219) in Taipei now through the end of this month, according to GenuinePC.

A nearly identical PC from GenuinePC but with an Intel Core i5-750 2.66GHz quad core microprocessor and a DVD Supermulti drive instead of Blu-ray, will be on sale for NT$30,980 (US$945) over the same time.

Autobuy, another Taiwanese vendor, showed off a lower-priced PC with an Intel Core i5-750 microprocessor with a 500GB HDD, 1GB of DDR3, Nvidia 9500GT graphics and a DVD rewriteable drive for NT$19,900 (US$607).

Autobuy also showed off a high-powered gamer PC with an Intel Core i7-870 microprocessor inside, 1TB HDD, 2GB of DDR3, Nvidia GTX275 graphics and Blu-ray Disc drive as well as a gaming keyboard and mouse for NT$53,500 (US$1,631).

The three new Intel desktop microprocessors all showed up at Taipei's well-known Guang Hua computer market around the first week of August, well ahead of the official launch.

Intel normally carefully controls the launch of new microprocessors, but the leak apparently stumped the chip giant this time. Executives at the Taipei launch acknowledged the early release in Taiwan, but didn't have many ideas about how it happened.

"I guess people really wanted to get their hands on these processors," said Stanley Huang, director of advanced technical sales and services for Intel in the Asia Pacific region.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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