According to a report in the EETimes, NEC is gearing up to show off a high performance quad-core processor built around ARM's Cortex-A9 design. The unveiling is expected to take place during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona next week.
If true, NEC would join a fraternity of companies claiming a quad-core chip based on ARM architecture. During CES, for example, Marvell Technology said it had developed the world's first quad-core ARM chip, but did not provide any details. Marvell's design is said to run faster than 1GHz, though it's unclear if the chip is a custom design or built around ARM's Cortex-A9.
It's safe to say that NEC has been chomping at the bit to release a quad-core Cortex-A9 chip. The company first introduced a multi-core ARM processor back in 2005, which was made up of four ARM11 processors and considered a test chip based on the ARMv6 instruction set, EETimes reports.
Touchscreen PCs haven't really taken off the way, say, touch-capable smartphones, media players, and other handheld gadgets have, and a big reason for that is a lack of power. So it makes sense (and gets us a little excited) that HP would cram a Core i7 chip into its TouchSmart line as part of its new 600 Quad series.
You do have to pay to play, however, with pricing starting off at $1,700. That gets you a 23-inch touchscreen display with an Intel Core i7 720QM quad-core chip racing along at 1.6GHz and 6MB of L2 cache. That also includes 4GB of DDR3-1600 memory, a 750GB 7200RPM hard drive (or 1TB if you're willing to roll with a 5400RPM spindle speed), Nvidia's GeForce GT230M graphics with a 1GB frame buffer, slot-load DVD burner, Wi-Fi, Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit, and other odds and ends.
Some of the more noteworthy upgrade options include an Intel Core i7 820QM quad-core CPU (1.73GHz, 8MB L2 cache), twice the amount of RAM, a 1.5TB 7200RPM for just $50 more, and a Blu-ray player.
AMD has its head in the cloud, and that may not be such a bad thing. The chip maker this week released another Opteron 1000 Series processor, codenamed Suzuka, with performance per watt and compatibility taking center stage.
"The flexibility of four cores and a low-cost infrastructure gives customers an edge when designing for a cost-effective or power-efficient platform," John Freuhe, director of business development for server and workstation products at AMD, wrote in a blog post.
Suzuka, which was designed for cloud computing, Web servers, small business servers, and other applications where lower power consumption is the primary focus, runs at 2.9GHz with 6MB of cache. And because Suzuka is based on the same core as Shanghai, existing AM2 platforms should only need a BIOS update to run the chip.
Unlike in the desktop market where quad-core computing has become commonplace, the four-core revolution has yet to make any real headway into the mobile sector. That might change soon as Intel has launched an affordable quad-core mobile chip.
The new Q9000 processor comes listed at $348, which is far easier to swallow than the $1,038 asking price for the existing mobile quad-core QX9300, or $851 for the Q9100. To make the lower price point possible, Intel cut the amount of cache in half from 12MB (QX9300 and Q9100) to 6MB. The Q9000 races along at 2.0GHz.
Acer has already jumped on board as one of the first OEMs to announce a Q9000-based laptop, the Aspire 8930G-7665, priced at $1,800. In addition to utilizing Intel's new quad-core chip, the Aspire also comes with an 18.4-inch WUXGA screen and GeForce 9700M GT GPU.
In other mobile chip news, Intel announced a handful of new dual-core mobile processors. These include the T9800 (2.93GHz, $530), P9600 (2.66GHz, $348), T9550 (2.66GHz, $316), and the P8700 (2.53GHz, $241).
For a long while, Intel's Core 2 Quad Q6600 processor remained a popular choice in the DIY community. The 2.4GHz chip, helped in part by an aggressive round of price-cuts, brought quad-core computing to the mainstream. It became even more popular when Intel released the G0 stepping, which ushered in lower temps and higher overclocking potential.
But there's no looking in the rear-view mirror for Intel, and with the chip maker's Core i7 stepping into the limelight, it's come time to retire the aging 65nm Q6600. Citing un-named sources at PC vendors, DigiTimes reports that Intel plans to phase out the vintage quad-core chip in Q1 2009 by issuing a product discontinuance notice.
The Q6600's impending end-of-life could come as good news to those in need of a quad-core upgrade while remaining fiscally responsible. In all likelihood, vendors will again cut the Q6600's price as they look to clear out inventory before the end of the year. Stocking stuffer, perhaps?
The era of quad-core mobile gaming draws closer as Asus gears up to release its G71 gaming notebook. Quad-core processors in notebooks are nothing new, but the G71 will use a true mobile quad-core CPU, specifically the Intel QX9300.
The 17-inch notebook uses a GeForce 9700M GT videocard with 512MB of GDDR3 RAM to push gaming pixels on the display's 1920x1200 resolution. Users can configure up to 4GB of DDR3-1066 memory, and on the non-volatile storage front, up to two 500GB hard drives for a total of 1TB. In other words, it will be a long time before you have to decide between installing a new game or storing porn.
Other features include a 2MP webcam, secondary keyboard display so you can keep an eye on your MSN Messenger IMs while gaming, optional Blu-ray drive, HDMI, eSATA, and everything else you'd expect to find on a modern high-end laptop.
Pricing and availability have not yet been announced, but did we mention it comes with a quad-core processor?
While the world looks ahead to Core i7, the first processor sporting the Nehalem architecture, Intel continues to tweak its currently shipping CPUs, this time for the server market. The new Xeon X5492 takes its place as the flagship Xeon processor, bumping the clockspeed from the previous high of 3.2GHz to 3.4GHz. The frontside-bus also gets a boost, settling in at 1.6GHz.
Intel also released the X5470, a slightly slower 3.33GHz part on a 1.33GHz frontside-bus. The lower clockspeeds allow the chip to consume a more modest 120W, compared to the X5492's 150W peak power draw. An even lower power L5430 makes a debut too. Aimed at small-profile desktops, the L5430 sips just 50W at 2.66GHz.
All three quad-core chips are available now with large-batch pricing from $562 (L5430) to $1,493 (X5492).
"These benchmark results are the latest evidence of the clear value that Quad-Core AMD Opteron processors offer an Internet business - or any data center that requires the ultimate i performance, reliability, and power efficiency," said Patrick Patla, AMD's general manager of Server and Workstation Business.
The press release makes no mention of who or where the benchmarks were ran, but did say an HP ProLiant DL385 G5 server equipped with two Opteron 2356 processors scored 30,007, while an HP ProLiant DL585 G5 server running two 8356 processors posted a score of 43,854.
With Intel's quad-core mobile chip soon coming to a laptop near you, some are wondering if a four-core chip might be overkill for a mobile platform. The answer is a resounding 'No' and anyone who thinks otherwise automatically loses 100x4 points of geek cred.
Okay, that might be a bit harsh, particularly since there are compelling reasons to support such blasphemous thoughts. While it's difficult to fathom ever having too much computing power, even desktop owners are still waiting for that killer app that will make everyone ditch their dual-core processor in favor of a quad. Moving to a mobile platform, wasted horsepower becomes even more of an issue as OEMs try to deal with heat dissipation, battery life, and the grand-daddy of them all, cost.
Nevertheless, there will be a market for four-core chips. Kelt Reeves, president of Falcon Northwest, says quad-core mobile chips are "definitely not" overkill, noting that the boutique OEM has been "putting quad-processors in (laptops) for a long time."
Details about some of Intel's upcoming quad-core mobile chips - like the Core 2 Extreme X9100 - are floating around the web, but others have yet to go public. Citing un-named sources, Cnet claims system vendors may start disclosing more details as soon as August 11. Will anyone care, or is dual-core still good enough for a laptop?
Good news for system builders and upgraders alike: Intel has cut processor prices (PDF) by as much as 31 percent. And these aren't price cuts on chips that nobody cares about either, but they include some overclocking favorites in both dual and quad-core trim:
Q6600, $224 to $193 (14% drop)
E8500, $266 to $183 (31% drop)
E8400, $183 to $164 (11% drop)
E7200, $188 to $113 (15% drop)
A handful of Xeon processors have also been marked down, but the real treat here is for overclockers. All four desktop processors have become extremely popular chips in the overclocking community due to their reputation for ramping up in clockspeed with minimal effort, and save for the E8500, each one could have been considered a bargain before the price cut. Now the price-to-performance ratio looks even better, enough so that those holding out for Nehalem may be tempted to pull the trigger now rather than wait. But on which one? Here's a refresher if you've been out of the loop for awhile:
Q6600 (2.4GHz, 8MB, 1066MHz, x9 multiplier)
E8500 (3.16GHz, 6MB, 1333MHz, x9.5 multiplier)
E8400 (3.0GHz, 6MB, 1333MHz, x9 multiplier)
E7200 (2.53GHz, 3MB, 1066MHz, x9.5 multiplier)
Prices represent 1,000 unit trays, so expect to pay a little bit more at your favorite vendor. Still, who can complain, and at these price points the question of the day is, build now or wait?