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Intel on Wednesday introduced Core i7 quad-core processors for laptops, bringing to market its highest-performing mobile chips to date.
The new products, which include an extreme edition for gaming systems and professional workstations, were unveiled at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco. The Core i7 chips are based on Intel's current 45-nanometer Nehalem microarchitecture.
Codenamed Clarksfield, the latest processors bring Intel's turbo-boost technology to laptops. The feature increases the clock speed of individual cores in a processor to dynamically meet workload demands. The core frequency is increased at intervals of 133 MHz until the upper limit is reached.
For example, a Clarksfield processor running at 2 GHz can be upped to 3.2 GHz using turbo boost, Dadi Perlmutter, executive VP and general manager of the Intel Architecture Group, said during his IDF keynote Wednesday. During the speech, Perlmutter showed a new Core i7 Extreme Edition running a gaming system from Alienware.
The new processors include two-channel DDR3 1333 MHz memory support and 1x16 or 2x8 PCI Express 2.0 graphics. The chips are used with Intel's new PM55 Express Chipset.
Computer makers shipping products with Core i7 mobile processors include Asus, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, and Toshiba. Based on quantities of 1,000 units, the Core i7-920XM, 820QM, and 720QM cost $1,054, $546, and $364, respectively.
Looking ahead, Perlmutter said Intel would release early next year Arrandale, Intel's first 32-nm mobile processor. The dual-core chip is based on Westmere, the 32-nm microarchitecture that's a variant of Nehalem. Later in the year, Intel plans to release a whole new 32-nm architecture, codenamed Sandy Bridge, which will be the first to include on-die integrated graphics.
For handheld devices, including smartphones, Intel is scheduled to release next year Moorestown, codename for a platform that comprises a system on chip, codenamed Lincroft, which integrates a 45-nm Atom processor, a graphics processor, memory controller, and video encoder/decoder. New features in Moorestown include a technique called "distributed power gating," which reduces power at the transistor level.
In 2011, Intel expects to introduce its third-generation platform for handhelds. Codenamed Medfield, the product will be a single-chip 32-nm system-on-chip design. Because of its ability to fit into even smaller devices than Moorestown, Medfield is expected to extend the chipmaker's reach in the smartphone market.
Finally, Perlmutter demonstrated a high-speed optical cable that Intel plans to release next year. Codenamed Light Peak, the cable connects mainstream electronic devices, such as laptops, high-definition displays, cameras, video players, and docking stations, and delivers 10 Gb per second of bandwidth. Intel claims the technology, which uses optical fiber rather than copper wire, can be scaled to 100 Gb per second over the next decade.
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