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Intel roadmap expands from quad core to mobile Internet

Posted: 09 May 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Intel quad core? mobile Internet? ultralow cost PC? Intel roadmap?

Intel Corp. has outlined a product roadmap that's expected to extend the company's reach into every segment of the computer market, from high performance machines to Web-enabled consumer electronics.

The linchpin to the chipmaker's plans, which executives presented at Intel's Spring Analyst Meeting in New York, is the shift to a 45nm manufacturing process from a 65nm. The move is expected to boost processor performance, while reducing size, energy use and manufacturing costs.

Intel plans to ship its first 45nm, codenamed Penryn, this year. All of Intel's chips will be branded under its Core microarchitecture launched last year. In 2008, the company plans to start the switch to a new architecture, codenamed Nehalem. In 2009, the company is expected to introduce its first 32-nanometer chip, a Nehalem-based processor codenamed Westmere. In 2010, Intel plans to move to another new microarchitecture, codenamed Sandy Bridge.

In his presentation to analysts, Intel CEO Paul Otellini identified what the company sees as its biggest growth segment todaynotebooksand what it sees as future, high-growth marketsmobile Internet devices, ultralow-cost PCs and Web-enabled consumer electronics.

On the notebook side, Intel sees mobile PCs surpassing desktops in shipments in 2009. Shipments of the former have been growing in double digits for several years, while desktops have been in the single digits. "This is why we're so manically focused on the notebook," Otellini said. The CEO, however, also emphasized that servers and desktops continue to be big revenue generators for Intel, and would get the company's full attention with new products.

For mobile computing, the company is on schedule to ship a new 65nm chip, codename Santa Rosa. The 45nm version, which will be a member of the Penryn family, is due in the first half of 2008.

From the second half of this year though the first quarter of next year, Intel plans to ship two 45nm quad-core processors (Harpertown for servers and Yorkfield for desktops) and three dual-core chips (Wolfdale, a dual processor configuration for servers, Wolfdale for desktops and Penryn for mobile).

Journey to 45nm
Among the benefits of taking the whole product line to a 45nm process, something rival Advanced Micro Devices won't start until the second half of 2008, is the ability to stretch Intel's reach with better products into more market segments. "This is very much foot to the floor in terms of technology and performance," Sean Maloney, executive VP and general manager of sales and marketing for Intel, told analysts.

At the highest end of the computation scale is Larrabee, which will be designed to scale to teraflops of performance, with enhancements for faster running of applications used in high-performance computing. High-performance computing is used in the pharmaceutical industry, financial services and scientific research.

At the lowest end is Silverthorne, which the company plans to ship next year. Silverthorne is targeted at ultralow cost PCs and provides adequate performance and low power consumption, characteristics that also are important for mobile Internet devices. Silverthorne will include Intel's "SoC," which integrates several key system components into a single Intel architecture-based processor.

Silverthorne is expected to be particularly useful in entering emerging markets, countries in Asia, Eastern Europe, and other regions where a tech-hungry middle class is forming, Otellini said. In those price-sensitive markets, ultralow-cost PCs are expected to sell well.

The new Silverthorne processor also will be part of Menlow, Intel's next-generation platform for mobile Internet devices and ultra-mobile PCs. The shipment date for that product has been moved up to the first half of next year from late in 2008, Intel said.

Beyond Menlow, Intel's next mobile Internet device and ultramobile PC platform is codenamed Moorestown and is scheduled to ship in the 2009-2010 time frame. Moorestown is expected to offer a 20x reduction in average power of Intel's 2006 platform and a 9x reduction in thermals and package size.

For Internet-compatible consumer electronics, such as the new Apple TV for delivering Web content to a TV, Intel plans to ship its first SoC architecture optimized for such devices in 2008. The new platform is expected to deliver a 2x performance over Intel's recently introduced CE 2110 media processor.

Along with the product road maps, Intel executives also discussed how the company has recovered from the slump it was in last year. Otellini said Intel is on target to cut expenses by $2 billion this year, and $1 billion more next year. Andy Bryant, executive VP and chief financial officer, later said he didn't know where he would draw the additional cost savings, but was confident the 2008 goal could be reached.

This year and next, Otellini expects profit growth to outpace revenue growth. "While we will have revenue growth this year and we will certainly have revenue growth, I would expect, next year," Otellini said, "we now project that our bottom-line growth will grow faster in 2007 and 2008 than our top-line growth."

In describing his mood about the company's financial strength, Bryant said he looks back to last year when Intel was losing market share to AMD and said the company has made "pretty good progress," but has a lot more to do.

"We're determined to continue to set the pace, and by god we're going to act that way," Bryant said. "We're not going to be in the same place we were last year."

- Antone Gonsalves

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