IDF: Intel’s mobile platform goes quad-core, adds WiMax

  • Beijing (China) – Intel has begun briefing media representatives on the day before the official opening of its Spring Developer Forum, which is held in Beijing this year. Mooly Eden, one of the key personalities behind Intel’s Core 2 Duo discussed the features of the upcoming Santa Rosa platform and the 45 nm CPU Penryn, which Intel believes will become a gaming monster.

    We are a few weeks away from the introduction of Intel’s Santa Rosa platform, so it isn’t really a surprise that the company spent some time on making sure that all the details about the new features are out there. It is not just a slight upgrade, but a major overhaul of the mobile platform that helps Intel to offer a fresh product until the introduction of the 45 nm Penryn processor - and have a chipset in place that can serve as reliable launchpad for Penryn as well.

    The company is expected to introduce new Core 2 Duo T-series CPUs in May that will bring FSB800 processors, an improved graphics chipset (GM, PM, GL965), as well as a 802.11n chipset that has been announced back in January and is becoming available in notebooks these days. There are four new processors (T7100, T7300, T7500, T7700), all equipped with 4 MB L2 cache and ranging from 1.8 to 2.4 GHz in clock speed that will be shipping as part of the Santa Rosa platform. Part of the platform is also Turbo Memory, a flash cache technology that was previously code-named “Robson.”


    According to Intel, Santa Rosa shipments already have begun: Santa Rosa accounts for one third of performance shipments in the current quarter; the share will climb to 50% in Q3 and exceed 80% in Q4. Around that timeframe, Intel will be getting ready to introduce the replacement for Merom core– the 45 nm Penryn CPU.

    Similar to the current Core 2 Duo processors that were launched on the Napa platform (which was introduced with Core Duo in January 2006), the 45 nm successor of Merom will launch on a refreshed preceding chipset platform. The mobile variant of Merom is expected to ship in the first half of 2008 in volume.    

    The processor will bring some enhancements in the performance (SSE4, up to 12 MB L2 cache) and power savings department. Intel also has decided to release a quad-core version for gaming notebooks. Gaming becomes increasingly important for Intel to win over the gaming crowd as indirect and credible promoters of its technology. In its IDF presentation, the mobile processors were described by Eden as “Speed Demons” – an image that would have been rather unlikely for Intel’s mobile processors just two or three years ago.

    But just like Intel says that Santa Rosa “unlocks” the Core 2 Duo, the immediately following platform update scheduled for release in the first half of 2008, promises some new and unique features. Code-named “Montevina”, the platform will bring the new Cantiga chipset, the Boaz Ethernet part and Robson 2.0 – and Echo Peak, the first wireless chipset to integrate WiMax and WiFi on one board. According to a separate presentation given by Intel senior fellow Kevin Kahn, Intel already has prototypes of Wi-Fi/WiMax combinations running and can imagine further integration of wireless capability onto one board – including GPS, 3G and WPAN.

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