Intel Shakes Out 16 New 45nm Chips

Intel unveiled 16 new Penryn processors at the International 2008 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas Monday. Coming in a variety of form factors, all of the new chips are based on Intel’s 45-nanometer (nm) manufacturing process, and five of them represent the first Penryn-based processors built for laptops. Four are for servers, and the remaining seven are for desktops.

All are now lead-free and, starting this year, halogen-free, making the processors more environmentally friendly.

“The new products we’re announcing today provide consumers and businesses with the benefit of sleeker and higher-performing laptops and more powerful and fashionable PCs that deliver for the most hard-core gamer, high-definition enthusiast and just about every other consumer demand,” noted Mooly Eden, vice president and general manager of the mobile platforms group for Intel.

Nominal Speed Boosts

“This is a follow on to the products they announced — the quad-cores and few of the 45nm dual-cores they announced in November — and these have been widely expected,” Nathan Brookwood, principal analyst for Insight 64, told TechNewsWorld.

“They are roughly the same as the 65 nanometer products they replaced from an architectural standpoint, with a few enhancements here and there that will help in certain applications,” he added.

The new processors will run at speeds ranging from 2.1 GHz to 2.8 GHz, which isn’t much faster than the previous generation of Intel Core 2 Extreme and Duo-branded products. The new processors are smaller, however, so they come with a small boost in performance. Plus, Intel bumped up the L2 cache size in some of the processors to a whopping 6 megabytes.

Faster Video Encoding

Intel has also added new video and graphics capabilities with its Intel HD Boost that includes Intel Streaming SIMD (Single Instruction, Multiple Data) Extensions 4 (SSE4) for speeding up workloads including video encoding for high-definition and photo manipulation, Intel said. To get the performance gains available with SSE4, however, applications will have to be optimized to take advantage of the new Intel SSE4 instruction set.

The new processors are more power efficient, which means consumers may see a boost in battery life once laptops containing the new processors start shipping next week. The five mobile processors also feature a new Intel Core microarchitecture design for a new, advanced power management state called “Deep Power Down Technology,” reduces the power of the processor when it’s not running data or instructions to the laptop, Intel says.

As for desktops, the new Intel Core 2 Quad and Intel Core 2 Duo processor offerings will begin shipping this month in new PCs, and quad core-based systems will hit later this quarter. Intel’s four Xeon processors for servers and workstations are also expected to ship this quarter.

“The big news for Intel is really going to be with its next generation architecture, which they call ‘Nehalem,’ that we’re expecting in the second half of the year,” Brookwood said. “That’s where major enhancements will come in performance and architecture, so these products — and although they’re very good — it’s hard to get excited over them.”

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