IDF: Intel reanimates its 90 nm Pentium M CPU

  • Beijing (China) – Intel began the second day of its Spring IDF with keynotes covering the firm’s mobile processors – including the upcoming Santa Rosa platform, the 45 nm mobile Penryn processor, the first WiMax chipset as well as a new generation of UMPCs, which revives the 90 nm Pentium M processor.

    Who would have thought that an almost three year old processor would serve as the foundation for the new generation of Ultra Mobile PCs? Yes, we are absolutely serious, the second-gen UMPC platform promoted by Intel does not use 65 nm Core Solo or - as some have speculated - Core Duo processors, but integrate a revived Pentium M CPU with 90 nm Dothan core.

    For Intel’s new UMPC platform, code-named McCaslin, the processor has dropped the Pentium brand and is now known as the A100 series of processors. There will be two versions, the A100 (600 MHz) and the A110 (800 MHz). Both CPUs run on a 400 MHz FSB and integrate 512 KB of L2 cache. We are still a bit puzzled by the fact that Intel has not chosen a more up-to-date power plant for a segment that is starving for more computing power; however, the Pentium addresses the need for low power consumption: According to the company, the chips are rated at a thermal design power of 3 watts.

    For now, it appears that McCaslin may very well become another platform that has to provide a bridge to a more convincing platform that can make the UMPC segment more successful. “Menlow” was demonstrated as a prototype at the IDF stage and is scheduled to arrive next year. It will bring “Silverthorne”, a new 45 nm processor specifically designed for the UMPC market as well as a new chipset code-named “Poulsbo”. Silverthorne is expected to run in a power envelope between 0.6 watts and 2 watts and be as fast as the second-generation Pentium M processors. According to Intel, it will also be the "lowest cost microprocessor the company has built in 20 years."

    For the regular notebook, the Santa Rosa platform as well as four new Core 2 Duo processors will serve as the firm’s premium product line up for the remainder of 2007 as well as early 2008. While Penryn is expected to be shipping for revenue in late 2007, the CPU will officially be announced in H1 2008 - sources indicated that Intel may once again use CES as a launch pad. Penryn will be introduced with a refreshed Santa Rosa platform; later in 2008, Intel will offer the “Montevina” platform that will bring the first integrated Wi-Fi/WiMax chipset and provide a bridge until the H2 2008 introduction of a new 45 nm microprocessor architecture (“Nehalem”).

    And, yes, we are still scratching our heads why Dothan was revived. We will be updating this article as soon as we have an answer from Intel.