The ultraportable craze has been nothing short of ultra popular, and it might get even better next month. While Intel senior VP Pat Gelsinger was delivering his keynote during IDF on Monday, Cnet claims an Intel employee spilled the beans on the company's plans to offer up a dual-core Atom in September, a move that would make the Nettop market even more popular than it already is. Specifics weren't disclosed, but if earlier reports hold true, look for the new hyperthreading-capable chip to come clocked at 1.6GHz per core on a 533MHz front-side bus with 1MB of L2 cache.
Dunnington and Nehalem
On a more official note, Intel revealed plans to also offer its six-core Dunnington server processor in September, which will be the last member of Intel's 45nm Penryn family. And while on the topic of cores, Intel also showed the first eight-core Nehalem chip. Gelsinger said the new chip will be a monolithic design with all eight cores crammed onto a single piece of silicon. Tasty!
The WiMax Forum has formally approved three licensed spectrum profiles for WiMax, 2.5 GHz, 2.3 GHz and 3.5 GHz. Intel’s primary focus hitherto has been on the 2.5 GHz spectrum profile as it is used in the U.S – Clearwire will roll out its WiMax service in three U.S cities later this year. The chip maker has announced that its WiMax chipset will support frequencies beyond 2.5 GHz in 2009.
Although it didn’t specify the exact spectrum profiles it plans to support, it is safe to assume that the remaining two profiles approved by the WiMax forum will be on the list. As WiMax networks in various countries around the world operate on either 2.5 GHz or 3.5 GHz, it is very obvious that Intel will soon support them. But Intel stopped short of announcing any release dates.
Tom’s Hardware reports that IBM and its chip development partners (which includes AMD), revealed that they beat Intel in creating the first functional 22 nm SRAM cell. Unfortunately 22nm processors are still 3 years out. This will put the pressure on Intel to make sure it keeps its manufacturing lead. Intel presented its first 32 nm SRAM cell wafer last September and is not expected to show 22 nm SRAM cells for another year.
While for the foreseeable future it seems likely that Intel will remain on top in CPU performance, this announcement means that we could be looking at a shakeup within three years unless Intel starts cranking away in research. We can certainly hope for things to heat up in the processor wars again. We don’t want Intel to become complacent about it’s position in the market.
It won't be long before single-core processors will seem as antiquated as single-speed CD-ROM drives, and the case could be made that we're already there. Dual- and quad-core processors rule the landscape, and while Intel's upcoming Core i7 has enthusiasts frothing at the mouth, the chip maker may have something even more mouth watering in the very near future.
If the latest rumor turns out to be true, expect a replacement architecture for Nehalem in 2010 which will double the number of cores per die to eight. Codenamed Sandy Bridge, alleged leaked slides suggest the new architecture will also support hyperthreading, giving the eight-core chip a generous 16 threads to work with. Also look for 16MB of L3 cache to find its way onto the chip.
But for all the hardware goodness, it's the software that may end up playing the biggest role in performance improvements. Intel will reportedly introduce a new instruction set called Advanced Vector Extensions (AVX) that will eventually supersede SSE. AVX will double the size of instructions to 256 bits and will be capable of performing up to four calculations in a single instruction.
With over a year to go before the supposed new architecture makes a debut, will developers be ready by then to take advantage of the additional cores and new instruction set?
No doubt you’re familiar with the Universal Serial Bus – we ranked it as our top PC innovation of all time. But what do you know about the next version of this ubiquitous interface? USB 2.0 (otherwise known as USB Hi-Speed) boosted the original 12Mbps data rate to 480Mmb/s over eight years ago, and now USB 3.0 (dubbed USB Superspeed) is set to multiply that bandwidth tenfold. The USB Implementers Forum (led by Intel) released the USB 3.0 spec to hardware partners last week after some reported disputes with AMD and Nvidia (who, afraid Intel would have a jump start in incorporating the tech in chipsets, threatened to develop their own USB standard). But how does this affect you? We dug up some new information about USB 3.0, got our hands on the new connectors, and even took a look inside the new cables.
Click through for the five reasons why we’re excited about USB 3.0
Electronista says that Intel is planning a super fast 160GB Solid State Drive. They report that Intel's flash memory marketing head Troy Winslow says the Z-P140 was just a prelude to a series of bigger announcements to come before the end of the year. Winslow goes on to say that there will be a series of 1.8- and 2.5-inch drives for ultraportables that will hold between 80GB and 160GB. They should also outperform the 100 megabytes per second reading speed of the Samsung Flash SSD.
Solid State is really making inroads this year and as may predicted, they have invaded laptops first. Perhaps by 2010 they will be the default choice for enthusiast builds in desktops. Their read speeds are faster than traditional hard drives and their capacities have reached a useful level. Winslow points out that Intel’s experience with building quick interconnects between processors and chipsets helps them make improved memory controllers for the SSD drives.
When they hit the same price point and capacity as Western Digital’s Velociraptor drives and they do something about the pokey write speeds, count me in. They aren’t quite ready for mainstream, but they certainly do look like the future.
Maximum PC readers know not to expect much from a notebook equipped with Intel Integrated graphics, but where do we draw the line? This is the answer Intel attempted to provide on its blog in response to concerns over poor performance of the Centrino 2, G45 based graphics chipset. Intel spokesmen Aaron Brezenski attempted to down play the results of the AMD demonstration pitting a Turion X2 vs. a Centrino 2 in a head to head blue ray and gaming playback competition.The AMD Pavilion dv5z features a RadeonHD 3200 and clearly outperformed the Intel Pavillion dv5t. The Intel based system locked the processor utilization at a steady 100% during video playback while the AMD based system hummed along normally with Windows Defender actively running background scans.
Nvidia’s secret war with Intel has evolved into a full scale arms race for the atomic bomb of graphics technology, ray tracing. Using its forum at SIGGRAPH, Nvidia was able to demonstrate an interactive ray tracing simulation using four of the company's next-generation Quadro GPUs. They were set in a Quadro Plex 2100 D4 Visual Computing System with an estimated street price of around $11,000. Not exactly your standard gaming rig, but it gets the point across. Either way, it appears as though Nvidia is finally taking a cue from Intel and is focusing at least some of its effort on developing hardware capable of making this technique a reality for everyday users. The demonstration featured linear scaling of an anti aliased Bugatti Veyron with over two-million polygons. It was run at a resolution of 1920x1080 (1080p) and chugged along at an impressive 30 FPS. The demonstration also featured image-based lighting paint shaders, reflections / refractions, and ray traced shadows. Industry insiders noted that the demo was an impressive undertaking since it was one of the first interactive demonstrations done using a GPU. Intel has demonstrated ray tracing using Quake 3 but was done using CPU power.Larrabee will be Intel’s counter in the consumer market, but it remains to be seen if the CPU style design will be as capable of pushing out polygons as Nvidia’s offerings.Gamers are no doubt hoping the new race to master ray tracing will accelerate its development, but I have a feeling we will be playing Duke Nukem Forever long before we see consumer based ray tracing solutions from either company. Though the important first steps are now well underway.
Forget any talk of shortages or competitive pressure from VIA, Intel's Atom processors are thriving amid the recent Netbook and Mobile Internet Device (MID) movement. "Atom is off to a very, very rapid start, far exceeding our expectations when we started the year," CFO Stacy Smith said in an interview Tuesday. "It's the perfect recession product to have in the marketplace."
The success of its Atom processor has helped Intel achieve a 25 percent rise in quarterly profit despite a weak global economy, with Smith maintaining an overall revenue forecast in the third quarter between $10.0 and $10.6 billion.
Yields are good too. According to Smith, Intel gets about 2,500 Atom processors per silicon wafer, and while that's not quite as good as on a Core or Xeon chip, it's enough to ensure strong profitability on Atom CPUs. Still, Intel remains cautiously optimistic.
"We'll know kind of in six months how much of this demand (for Atom) is real and how much is customers thinking they're going to win in the market place and double-ordering," Smith said. "It seems to be growing the market rather than cannibalizing existing PC sales."
Will Intel's Atom chips continue to exceed expectations now that Centrino 2 platforms are starting to trickle out?
Programs like LogMeIn and other similar remote access software can be a boon when you need to access a file on your home machine while you're at work, but happens if there's a temporary power outage? You could drive back home to turn on your PC and grab the file while you're there, but according to a report in The Wall Street Journal, Intel's developing a better solution that will allow people to power up their computers and retrieve files over the internet.
Called Remote Wake, the technology will reportedly work only on PCs using a "recently introduced chipset from Intel" and require a software install on the remote system. The technology is said to enable home computers to wake up from sleep mode for incoming VoIP calls and allow users to remotely access live TV shows, webcam feeds, photos, videos, and music.
"This is an extension of a technology that's been around in the server world for several years," said Dan Olds, an analyst at Gabriel Consulting Group Inc. "On servers, you have something that's called a service processor that's always awake and can do things like monitor the system, do reboots, and run diagnostics. You'd have complete remote access to your home PC. You could do that now, but the computer has to be turned on all the time, and sleep mode can interfere with remote operations."
The technology is expected to become available as early as next week.