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.
Toms Hardware reports that Intel’s "Extensible Host Controller Interface (xHCI) draft specification revision 0.9 in support of the USB 3.0 architecture, also known as SuperSpeed USB" is now available. This is a good indicator that we might see the first USB 3.0 demonstrations at next week’s IDF in San Francisco.
xHCI draft specification provides hardware component designers, system builders and device driver developers with a description of the hardware/software interface between system software. It is being made available under RAND-Z (i.e. royalty free) licensing terms to all USB 3.0 Promoter Group and contributor companies that sign an xHCI contributor agreement.
It doesn’t appear that the new spec will be backward compatible past USB 2.0. I find it hard to believe that USB 1.1 devices will be out of luck, so I plan to keep an eye on that aspect. USB 3.0 at 600 MB/s will offer a ten-fold increase in the bandwidth of USB 2.0 at 4.8 Gb/s. That is pretty impressive if it approaches it’s spec yield. USB 2.0 spec rate is 480 Mbit/s but typical USB PC-hosts rarely exceed sustained transfers of 280 Mbit/s.
Will you be wanting USB 3.0 on your future system?
CustomPC reports that VIA is calling it quits in the motherboard chipset business, and will focus on making x86 processors.
They quote VIA’s vice president of corporate marketing in Taiwan, Richard Brown, as saying, “One of the main reasons we originally moved into the x86 processor business was because we believed that ultimately the third party chipset market would disappear, and we would need to have the capability to provide a complete platform.” He adds, ‘That has indeed come to pass,’ and said, ‘Intel provides the vast majority of chipsets for its processors and, following its purchase of ATI, AMD is also moving very quickly in the same direction.’
This comes after Nvidia said that they were not offering a native chipset for Bloomfield (now Core i7) processors, and SLI would be available in the form of the nForce 200 chip, similar to the Skulltrail implementation with the nForce 100.
VIA was always popular with the enthusiast on a budget crowd, which shot up with their Apollo P4X266 chipset. The P4X266 brought DDR memory support to the Pentium 4 and went ahead without a license from Intel to do so.
This seems to highlight a trend that the industry no longer needs third party chipset manufacturers, with AMD now offering it’s own chipsets for it’s own CPUs, just as Intel has done for a long time. It would seem logical that CPU manufacturers would be in the best position to offer chipsets that would squeeze the most out of their respective CPUs, but without a multitude of third party manufacturers, I can’t help but wonder who will keep them honest in doing so, and not allow the field to stagnate.
Intel's Core processor lineup (the parts formerly known as Nehalem) are a stone's throw away from release, and in preparation of the launch, Intel is cutting prices on a pair of existing chips and adding a few more to its lineup.
The price cuts affect two of Intel's higher end offerings, with the Core 2 Quad Q9550 (2.83GHz) and Xeon X3360 both dropping a generous 40 percent from $530 to $316. The new price points represent 1,000 tray units, so expect to pay slightly more through your favorite online vendor.
New models will also find their way into the lineup, including the Core 2 Quad Q9650 (3.0GHz) and Core 2 Quad Q9400 (2.66GHz) priced at $530 and $266 respectively. A trifecta of new Xeons will also make their way into the lineup: Xeon X3370 (3.0GHz) priced at $530, X3333 (2.66GHz) priced at $266, and the E3120 (3.16GHz) priced at $188.
It might be awhile before other popular chips in Intel's lineup see another price drop, as the company has stated its initial Nehalem parts, the Core i7, will be geared towards high-end PCs.
Rumors don't always turn out to be true, particularly in the tech wolrd, but that's not the case with last week's chatter regarding Nehalem's name change. Intel has since made it official, formerly branding the new architecture "Intel Core processor." Also true to rumor, the first products to come out of Santa Clara on the new silicon will be dubbed Core i7, which the company says is the first of several new identifiers to come as different products launch over the next year.
"The Core name is and will be our flagship PC processor going forward," said Sean Maloney, Intel's general manager, Sales and Marketing Group. "Expect Intel to focus even more marketing resources around that name and the Core i7 products starting now."
Antsy upgraders can look for the new processors in the fourth quarter of this year, with Extreme Edition variants identifiable by a separate black logo.
Any thoughts on Intel's decision to keep the Core nomenclature?
In an attempt to tighten the screws on AMD, Intel is continuing to roll out new midrange processors early next week. Despite the fact that they aren’t officially released yet, online e-tailers are already taking orders. The CPU’s will be based on Intel’s 45-nanometer process and both Alienware & Falcon Northwest are preparing to announce systems featuring the new parts in tandem with its release. The 95 watt Q9650 currently retails for $559 on Newegg, and features a core clock speed of 3 GHz. This paired with a 12MB L2-cache, and a 1333MHz front side bus make it a solid performer for the price. In fact, this puts midrange consumers within striking distance of the Dream Machine's 150 watt QX9775 which retails for a much heftier $1550. The QX9775 runs only 200MHz faster with the same 12MB’s of L2-cache.The main difference between the two is the 1600 MHz FSB, Skulltrail support, and the subsequent overclocking potential that comes with the extreme series. Looking for something more modest? The Q9400 is rated for 2.66 GHz and will feature 6 MB of L2-cache on a 1333MHz FSB. For those who prefer the dual core design, the Core 2 Duo’s lineup will be receiving an update as well. The new E8600 clocks in at 3.33GHz,with6 MB of L2-cache and a FSB of 1,333MHz, while the lower end E7300 will sport a 2.66GHz clock with 3 MB of L2-cache, and a 1066MHz FSB. The 65 Watt E8600 is e-tailing for $279 and the E7300 will go for $144.
As the tech world waits with abated breath for Intel's Nehalem architecture to crash the Core 2 party, we still don't know what name to put on the banners, but we might have a pretty good idea. It's not yet official, but according to the latest rumor, Intel will dub its newfangled Nehalem as Core i7, which would put to rest any speculation that the chip maker might drop the 'Core' designation in its new nomenclature.
For anyone that hasn't been reading Maximum PC on a regular basis (shame on you) or who have been living under a rock (you get a free pass), Nehalem is Intel's next big processor microarchitecture, representing the 'tock' in the company's tick-tock update cycle. Along with tri-channel DDR3 support, Nehalem will usher in Intel's move to an integrated memory controller and finally do away with the crowded front-side bus. Gordon Mah Ung covered the architecture in detail last week, and while you're brushing up on the nuances of Nehalem, be sure and check out what the first Nehalem system looks like.
Getting back to the naming scheme, we'll have to wait until hearing official word, but in the meantime, speculation is welcome. Do you like the rumored name change?
Here’s the second part of our exclusive QuakeCon interview with John Carmack. In the first part of our conversation, Carmack discussed his hopes for Quake Live and the id Software’s new gaming direction in Rage. This time around, he gets more into the heady technical stuff with his thoughts on Nvidia’s CUDA, physics accelerators, general purpose computing, and ATI’s rumored Fusion technology. Here’s a snippet:
John Carmack – I was well known as not being a supporter of the PhysX accelerators. It’s always felt like a gimmicky plan with people setting up a company to be acquired. For years, the tack has been what do you do with any time Intel delivers something more with processors and more cores? It’s never really proven out right and there’re a lot of reasons for it.
For one thing you can’t scale AI and physics in general with your gameplay, while with graphics, you could scale. Without scaling, you can’t design a game that requires fancy AI and then turn off the fancy AI for the low end systems because practically that’s not possible. Similarly for physics, if it’s anything other than eye candy, you also can’t scale. If the building is going to fall down you need to know whether you’re going to be able to get past it on the high end or the low end.
As Intel gears up to sample Larrabee later this year, the chip maker continues to build hype over the architecture's x86 roots. Intel is quick to point out that developers will be able to program in C or C++ languages just as they're used to doing on x86 processors, giving them an easy way to port applications from other platforms over to Larrabee.
Meanwhile, Nvidia also wants to build hype, but over its competing CUDA architecture. DailyTech has posted Nvidia's comments on the issue, which read:
CUDA is a C-language compiler that is based on the PathScale C compiler. This open source compiler was originally developed for the x86 architecture. The NVIDIA computing architecture was specifically designed to support the C language - like any other processor architecture. Competitive comments that the GPU is only partially programmable are incorrect - all the processors in the NVIDIA GPU are programmable in the C language.
NVIDIA's approach to parallel computing has already proven to scale from 8 to 240 GPU cores. Also, NVIDIA is just about to release a multi-core CPU version of the CUDA compiler. This allows the developer to write an application once and run across multiple platforms. Larrabee's development environment is proprietary to Intel and, at least disclosed in marketing materials to date, is different than a multi-core CPU software environment.
Andrew Humber from Nvidia also went on to clarify that CUDA is a brand name for the C-compiler rather than being two different things.
Anyone else feel chilly when Nvidia and Intel are in the same room?