Intel on Tuesday touted a new line of more efficient microprocessors, seeking to bring some sparkle back to a product stable that has come under assault from rival AMD.
Acknowledging that the world's top chip maker is "under tremendous competitive pressure," chief technology officer Justin Rattner said the company was reversing a trend of making chips that guzzle more electricity.
Rattner delivered the first speech of Intel's twice-annual developers' forum in San Francisco, an important venue for the technology bellwether to showcase new products.
Intel wants to make clear that the company which invented the microprocessor is not standing still.
"It's a big step in performance that benefits end users and us competitively," Pat Gelsinger, senior vice president of Intel's enterprise group, said of the new chips.
"But the real magic is we did that step up in performance while reducing energy requirements," Gelsinger told in an interview with Reuters.
New Architecture and Energy Efficiency
The lower energy usage and improved performance of the new chips will finally make it possible to design sleek and silent computers that people will want in their living rooms to store and play video and music, Gelsinger said.
"Anytime I can put more performance in smaller package, good things happen," he said.
The more efficient chip design -- which Intel has dubbed the Core Microarchitecture -- will make its way into computers for homes, offices and corporate data centers later this year.
At the center of Intel's efforts is a commitment to energy-efficient performance based on a next-generation microarchitecture reviewed earlier in the day by Intel Chief Technology Officer Justin Rattner. These multi-core products designed with the Intel Core microarchitecture will enable new designs and fuel the office PCs.
By the end of 2006, Intel Core microarchitecture will be at the heart of PC and server platforms. Noting its remarkable gains in performance for desktop PCs, Gelsinger showcased Conroe, a dual-core processor that can reduce power consumption by 40 percent while delivering greater than 40 percent improvements in computing performance.
Additionally, Gelsinger announced that Conroe will now also be a part of Intel's Professional Business Platform - codenamed Averill - available in the second half of 2006. Averill will deliver increased IT security and manageability capabilities for businesses through the Conroe dual-core processor along with a new chipset codenamed Broadwater, Intel Virtualization Technology and the second generation of Intel Active Management Technology.
For dual-processor servers and workstations, Intel will ship three new processors in 2006. Sossaman, an ultra-low-power processor, is scheduled to ship next week and is designed for server blades, storage devices and telecommunications equipment. Dempsey is scheduled to ship by the end of the month and is the first processor for a new Intel Xeon-based platform, codenamed Bensley.
In the third quarter of 2006, Intel will update the Bensley platform with the Woodcrest processor, which is expected to further reduce power consumption by 35 percent and to deliver greater than 80 percent improvement in computing performance.
Gelsinger also gave developers their first public view of a running quad-core processor
, codenamed Clovertown, for dual-processor servers. Clovertown is socket-compatible with the Bensley platform and is slated to ship in early 2007. It will deliver increased processing capacity and is suited for multi-threaded applications, such as those used in databases, financial services and supply-chain management. Additionally, the company also plans to ship a quad-core processor - codenamed Kentsfield - for high-end desktop PCs in early 2007.
Intel provided a look at the next generation of Intel Virtualization Technology (Intel VT) for enterprise servers. Server virtualization helps IT organizations streamline their infrastructure, optimize utilization, reduce total costs and improve business agility. Intel began to ship processors with Intel VT last year. Intel's next generation of virtualization, Intel Virtualization for Directed I/O (Intel VT?d), will include I/O virtualization to assign I/O devices to virtual machines, providing a more robust, higher performance platform for virtualized systems.
The company also announced the immediate availability of a specification for developers to evaluate and design future Intel VT d supported products. Supporting this development, both Microsoft and VMware executives appeared during the keynote and announced support and collaboration on the Intel VT d specification.
Microsoft's Bob Muglia, senior vice president, Server & Tools Business, also joined Gelsinger on stage and discussed Microsoft's collaboration with Intel on the specification for Intel VT?d and how this technology provides a hardware foundation for the Windows virtualization architecture. Additionally, Muglia discussed how the two companies are collaborating to advance PC manageability capabilities for IT. Intel Active Management Technology (Intel AMT) combined with Microsoft's Systems Management Server product will provide IT managers with the ability to manage PCs on their networks even when these devices are turned off or have inoperable hard drives or operating systems.
Intel AMT allows IT managers to remotely manage and maintain those systems without disrupting the end-user. In addition, Gelsinger reviewed Intel's next generation of Intel AMT and a new feature codenamed Circuit Breaker. This feature proactively protects against such incoming threats as viruses, isolating infected PCs before they impact the network, and alerting IT when threats are removed.
Further advancing the security capabilities of future PC platforms, Gelsinger announced that a preliminary specification for LaGrande Technology (LT) is now available for developers. LT consists of hardware extensions to Intel silicon that enable the platform to protect against software-based attacks and protect the confidentiality and integrity of data on the PC.
Intel Executive Vice President Sean Maloney also outlined Intel's mobile future, announcing new technologies in mobile devices and broadband wireless. Maloney for the first time disclosed details of the next-generation Intel Centrino mobile technology?based platform, as well as a single chip Wi-Fi/WiMAX radio and an Intel?branded mobile WiMAX PCMCIA card. He also provided details about the next generation dual-core mobile processor based on Intel's Core microarchitecture and Intel's next-generation applications processor for handheld devices.
The next generation of Intel Centrino mobile technology, codenamed Santa Rosa and detailed for the first time in Maloney's keynote, is designed to give users better overall performance and graphics, improved wireless connectivity and improved security and manageability. Santa Rosa is expected to include a more powerful mobile microprocessor, an improved graphics chipset, codenamed Crestline, an IEEE 802.11n Wi-Fi adapter, codenamed Kedron, as well as Intel-optimized management and security solutions. The platform will also include Intel's NAND flash-based platform accelerator, codenamed Robson, which enables much more rapid boot-up time and power savings. Santa Rosa, available in the first half of 2007, will use Intels dual-core mobile microprocessor based on Intel's Core microarchitecture, codenamed Merom. An initial version of Merom will also be available for the current Intel Centrino Duo platform to align with the 2006 holiday buying cycle and will be socket or pin-compatible with the current version of Intel Core Duo processors.
Maloney also showcased two new concept PCs from Intel that offer multiple operating modes to increase their usability. These concept PCs feature integrated WiMAX and wireless WAN technology, hard drive backup capability and broadcast digital TV reception capability.
Intel's family of next generation application processors for handheld devices, codenamed Monahans, is now sampling to customers. Maloney highlighted technologies in Monahans, including Wireless Intel SpeedStep with MusicMax technology, Intel Wireless MMX 2 and Intel VideoMax technology, which can enable dramatic energy?efficiency and enhanced performance in handheld devices playing audio and video.
Maloney also discussed Ultra Mobile PCs (UMPC), a new category of small form factor mobile devices. Maloney provided new details about Intel?s work in UMPCs, highlighting the growing ecosystem that Intel is working with to deliver targeted applications and services. The first UMPC devices running on Intel silicon are expected to launch from major OEMs this quarter.
Maloney also performed the first public demonstrations of the Kedron wireless LAN adapter and of Intel's 802.16e integrated mobile WiMAX technology. He disclosed that Intel will deliver a mobile WiMAX PCMCIA card in the second half of the year, enabling WiMAX in laptop PCs. Additionally, Maloney showcased the first single?chip multi?band Wi-Fi/WiMAX radio, codenamed Ofer, which will enable people using laptops to connect to Wi-Fi or WiMAX networks worldwide.