CES: Intel: It's early for mobile quad-core processors

Intel Corp. today officially launched Penryn-based dual-core processors for notebooks, but it also indicated that users expecting quad-core mobile processors may have to wait until issues surrounding power consumption are resolved.

The company's Core 2 Duo processors will be delivered to laptops based on the Centrino mobile platform. Manufactured using the 45-nanometer process, the new CPUs will provide laptops with better performance and improved battery life, said Mooly Eden, vice president and general manager of Intel Mobile Platforms Group.

Intel's dual-core processors are good enough for notebooks at present, because they perform required tasks and do not strain battery life, Eden said. Quad-core processors have power-consumption issues and are not ideal for laptops yet, he added.

2008 International CES

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Although Eden did not talk about Intel's mobile quad-core processor road map, he said that in the near future, notebooks will continue to use energy-efficient dual-core processors. Quad-core processors may first make their way to the high-end gaming and workstation notebooks that require heavy processing power, Eden said.

To preserve battery life, the Penryn-based Core 2 Duo processors have an advanced power management state called Deep Power Down Technology, which reduces a processor's power when not functional.

While cutting down on power usage, Penryn processors jump to higher clock rates and feature cache and design improvements that boost the processors' performance compared with earlier 65nm processors, Intel has said. The improved processors deliver better video performance with the help of instruction sets designed to process graphics and high-definition video tasks.

Penryn processors feature smaller transistors and cut down on electricity leaks, according to Intel. The processors use high-k metal-gate transistors, which make the processors faster and less leaky compared with earlier processors that have silicon gates.

The improved Centrino mobile platform, called Santa Rosa Refresh, will feature the Intel Mobile 965 processor and support for 802.11n wireless networking. An upgrade to the platform, code-named Montevina, is already being planned by Intel and is due out in the second half of this year. Montevina will include Echo Peak, a mini-card that integrates WiMax and Wi-Fi wireless technology on one chip.

The new Core 2 Duo processors -- the T8100, T8300, T9300 and T9500 -- feature clock speeds between 2.10 GHz and 2.6 GHz, with 3MB to 6MB of shared Level 2 cache. Prices for the chips range from $209 for the T8100 chip to $530 for the T9500.

Intel also introduced the Core 2 Extreme X9000 processor, which runs at 2.8 GHz, includes 6MB of shared L2 cache and is priced at $851.

No vendors made announcements of systems including the new processors at press time.

Intel also added Penryn-based server and desktop processors today.

It released Core 2 Quad quad-core desktop processors with clock speeds of 2.5 GHz to 2.83 GHz and prices ranging from $266 to $530. Intel also released four dual-core desktop processors, including the Intel Core 2 Duo E8500, which runs at 3.16 GHz, includes 6MB of L2 cache and is priced at $266.

Intel will ship three new Xeon quad-core processors, with clock speeds ranging from 2.5 GHz to 2.83 GHz and shared L2 cache from 6MB to 12MB, with prices from $266 to $530. The company's new dual-core Xeon E3110 processor, which runs at 3 GHz and includes 6MB of shared L2 cache, is priced at $188.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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