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Sat 3 Sep 2005 04:00 AM

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Intel’s roadmap will pave the way for multi-core revolution

Dual core is just the beginning, said Intel CEO and president Paul Otellini, as he revealed Intel’s new multi-core processor roadmap during the Intel Developer Forum (IDF) held last month.

Dual core is just the beginning, said Intel CEO and president Paul Otellini, as he revealed Intel’s new multi-core processor roadmap during the Intel Developer Forum (IDF) held last month.

“We’re not stopping at dual-core. Beyond this we have quad-core. Intel has over ten quad-core or beyond projects in development today,” he said.

At present, Intel also has more than 15 dual-core products underway, and over the next 18 months, it plans to ship about 60 million dual-core microprocessors.

Power efficiency and high performance will be the key elements of the new architecture from which its multi-core products will be based.

The new micro-architecture will combine the power-saving features of Banias — used to build the Pentium M notebook processor — with the performance provided by Netburst.

The unnamed architecture will increase chip performance by ten times the current processing power while reducing power demand by a tenth, Otellini claimed.

Three new 65-nanometre dual-core products that are based on this new chip design will be launched in the second half of 2006: Woodcrest for servers, Conroe for desktops and Merom for mobile use.

All three products will share common features such as 64-bit compatibility, virtualisation, trusted platform support and management features.

“We’re changing our engineering focus from clock speed to multi-core processors. Multi-core enables us to be able to deliver continued performance without the power penalties that we saw in the gigahertz approach. [But] with a new computing era coming upon us, I think it’s time to take things up to a different level,” Otellini said.

With power-optimised chips, PC manufacturers will be able to come up with new computer designs that will not only be able to run sophisticated business applications but also signal the beginning of what Intel calls “mobile ubiquity”.

Mobile ubiquity, according to Sean Maloney, Intel executive vice president and general manager of the Intel Mobility Group, is the result of the early adoption of wireless broadband services coupled with developments in mobile devices geared towards energy efficiency and higher performance.

“The number of voice lines worldwide skyrocketed with the proliferation of cellular phones. At the same time, the internet has unleashed an insatiable demand for computing power. Now, if we can deliver ubiquitous broadband based on open standards and drive performance and power innovation on computing and phone platforms, mobile computing has the potential for continued dramatic growth,” Maloney said.

Maloney unveiled several new capabilities planned for the company’s next-generation mobile platform, code-named Napa, designed to lower power consumption yet improve gra-phics and wireless capabilities.

The Napa platform, which will include a new dual-core mobile processor code-named Yonah, is based on Intel’s 65nm process technology.

The platform will also include a new integrated graphics chipset codenamed “Calistoga,” and next-generation Intel wireless solution code-named ‘Golan’.

On the digital home front, Don MacDonald, vice president and general manager of Intel’s Digital Home Group, unveiled the Viiv technology, the firm’s consumer PC platform scheduled for release early next year.

With Viiv, PCs based on the technology will ship with a remote control, Microsoft’s Windows Media Center Edition OS, and media software that let consumers interact with their PC in the same way as operating a TV.

“Intel’s Viiv technology is our first platform designed from the ground up for the digital home, where consumers are passionate about the idea of accessing their content anytime, anywhere in their home on a number of devices,” MacDonald said.

Viiv’s marketing strategy will be similar to Intel’s Centrino branding campaign where Centrino-based notebooks are labelled with a sticker.

Viiv-based PCs will be identified with a sticker that will inform consumers that the processor, chipset and software found on the PC are capable of handling distinct tasks, such as recording TV shows, without any problems.

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