At the Intel Developer Forum yesterday, the world’s largest chipmaker showed off a pair of forthcoming quad-core microprocessors, a new integrated WiFi-WiMax chip prototype and announced a virtualization deal with Microsoft Corp.
The company also confirmed it was on track to release in the second half of the year dual-core desktop, server and mobile dual-core processors, which will be the first built on its new Core microarchitecture announced last fall.
Notably, the new dual-core desktop chip, called Conroe, which would enable a 40% performance boost compared with current Pentium D processors, but also would consume 40% less power, said Pat Gelsinger, senior VP of Intel’s digital enterprise group.
Microsoft senior VP of servers and tools business Bob Muglia joined Gelsinger on stage to demonstrate to demo the upcoming Office 2007 version of Excel, which is expected to be released sometime during the second half of the year, on a Conroe-powered machine.
Muglia touted Office 2007 as having a whole set of new capabilities that take advantage of multi-core silicon where appropriate, such as in Excel. His demo showed an almost 3x performance boost in the application on Conroe.
And Microsoft also has geared its forthcoming Vista operating system to take advantage of Intel’s Averill technology, which enables PCs to be remotely serviced in the event of a hardware failure, Muglia said.
Conroe would be available in the third quarter, said Justin Rattner, Intel chief technology officer earlier, in his keynote at the San Francisco event.
The company’s dual-core mobile processor called Merom and its server counterpart, Woodcrest, will also be released later in the year, Rattner said. Merom will deliver a 3x performance increase per energy watt, said Sean Maloney, general manager of Intel’s mobility group.
Conroe, Merom and Woodcrest will all be built with the company’s new Core microarchitecture, which Intel sees as a key competitive advantage. Essentially, the microarchitecture promises the energy efficiency of mobile silicon but with beefed-up computing performance.
Beginning with the Pentium in 1993 and the Pentium 4 today, every increase in performance has brought a corresponding increase in energy used, Rattner said. We found a way out. Today we’re at the dawn of a new age of energy-efficient processing.
Intel rival Advanced Micro Devices Inc told Computer Business Review earlier this week that it plans to release mid-year new desktop processors that would also promise greater energy efficiency. But the company did not divulge details.
For Santa Clara, California-based Intel, 2006 will be the year for dual-core rollouts and 2007 will see the debut of the company’s first quad-core chips, Gelsinger said. He showed two quad-core chips, dubbed Clovertown for servers and Kentsfield for PCs. They will be built on Intel’s 65-nanometer manufacturing process and are slated for release early next year, Gelsinger said, during his keynote, in which presentations were run on a prototype Kentsfield-powered machine.
However, Rattner said Intel likely won’t double the number of processors again in 2008 because of a lack of available multi-core software applications. I think Intel is taking a relatively conservative approach here, he said. As the [software development] community responds to multi core and those applications develop, we will roll out additional cores.
On the mobile side, Intel continues its WiMax push. During his mobility products keynote, Maloney said Intel would start shipping a mobile WiMax PC card later this year, based on the .16e standard. He noted that Intel had previously touted mobile WiMax for next year, but that wireless standards were beginning to settle.
We are now at the point where there is a clear coalescing around the 2.3 to 2.5 GHz, 3.5 GHz and 5 GHz bands, Maloney said. It looks likely that the planet is going to be able to be covered using those frequency bands.
Maloney also announced what he claims is the first integrated WiFi-WiMax flexible radio chip, capable of operating in three communications bands. While the objective is over three years or so these two technologies will merge, Maloney said having a radio capable of handling both standards is a first step.
A large part of Intel’s broader competitive strategy is its 65-nanometer manufacturing technology, which helps boost performance and lower manufacturing costs. Rival Advanced Micro Devices Inc is expected to come on line with 65-nm later this year.
We’re at least a year ahead of the competition in 65nm, Rattner said. By mid-2007, Intel plans to move into a smaller 45-nm manufacturing node, he said.
Intel last week disappointed Wall Street by lowered its revenue forecast for the current quarter as a result of slower-than-expected sales and a slight dip in market share. But the company yesterday focused on its future product launches, which will be sold with a revamped corporate logo and new Leap Ahead slogan.
We have new platforms, new process technology and new products. It’s a very powerful one-two-three, Gelsinger said.