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Intel: The future is ultra-thin

Posted: 04 Jun 2009     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:thermal design power  WiMAX  processor  HD video 

The future is 'ultra-thin' according to Intel executive vice president Sean Maloney, who used a keynote at this week's Computex in Taipei to highlight new processors, including an ultra-low-voltage (ULV) processor, three new Core 2 Duo mobile processors, and a low-power mobile chipset.

There were few technical details or prices attached to the announcements, but Maloney said the mobile processors would enable lightweight and ultra-thin Intel-based laptops less than 1 inch thick at a variety of 'more affordable' price points.

Maloney also demonstrated "Pine Trail" during his talk, an Atom processor based platform for netbooks and nettops. He said the devices combined with communications networks such as WiMAX would help bridge the digital divide.

Intel is also planning new desktop PC chipsets that will make high definition (HD) available to mainstream desktop systems by the end of the year. Maloney also added Intel will deliver the "Lynnfield" and "Clarksfield" processors in the second half of the year and ship "Westmere" chips based on its 32-nm process with the company's second-generation Hafnium-based high-k metal gate transistor formula soon after.

"Business growth has always come from new technology transitions in our industry," Maloney said. "This year we have a series of new technologies based on second-generation, high-k metal gate, as well as new software and WiMAX developments."

Maloney said the Pine Trail platform would have improved performance, lower thermals and a reduction in average power for longer battery life. It will also feature an increased graphics core frequency for improved visuals. It is a 2-chip platform, with graphics and memory controller moving on to the processor, resulting in a smaller overall footprint that enables smaller, thinner designs and lower platform cost.

He also showed a beta version 2.0 of the Moblin operating system project for netbooks. The Moblin project features a rich, new user interface, better system responsiveness and fast boot times. Maloney said despite the slowdown in the world economy, HD video is growing at an incredible rate. He stressed HDMI is the most popular interface technology for HD and is expected to grow at an annual rate of 23 per cent through 2012.

The company's "Lynnfield" processor, he said, would deliver stunning HD to mainstream desktop PCs and become available in the latter half of this year. Maloney said that part would offer 40 per cent better performance compared with Penryn-based mainstream solutions.

Ultra-low voltage processors
The SU2700 consumer ultra-low voltage (CULV) processor unveiled at Computex is the first of Intel's dual-core CULV chips to fall under the Pentium rather than the Core 2 Duo brand.

The part is firmly targeted ultra-thin laptops that are slightly more expensive and powerful than netbooks, but still have portability that is closer to netbooks than to current laptops.

The 1.3GHz SU2700 uses an 800MHz front-side bus and 2MB of L2 cache. The chip is manufactured using the 45nm process. It has a thermal design power (TDP)—a measure for the amount of cooling a processor needs—of 10W, or around a third of the TDP for most current notebook processors.

The closest competitor to the CULV chip range is AMD's Athlon Neo product line. AMD also made its own processor announcement at the trade-show saying it has started shipping the dual-core versions of these ultra-low voltage chips.

Intel also outlined its GS40 Express chipset for CULV laptops. The part—a lower-power variant of the existing GS45 Express—allows high-definition video playback and includes an HDMI output.

-John Walko
EE Times Europe

Get related application notes and technical articles on Embedded Design India.





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