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Intel upgrades mobile platform, debuts SSDs

Posted: 18 Dec 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:dual-core mobile platform? SSD? HDD?

Intel Corp. announced Dec. 14 plans to ship the upgraded version of its dual-core mobile platform based on the 45nm manufacturing process by January and launched a solid-state drive (SSD) for mobile devices.

The refresh of Intel's Centrino platform, code-named Santa Rosa, will include a 45nm Core 2 Duo processor, code-named Penryn. The company is moving its whole product line over to the new manufacturing process, which gets more transistors on a chip than the previous generation for more computing power without increasing energy consumption.

The platform upgrade includes Intel's GM965 Express chipset, which has technology for processing high-definition video in HD DVD or Blu-ray formats. In addition, the platform supports Microsoft's DirectX 10, the latest version of the software maker's graphics technology, which is in Windows Vista.

Intel plans to offer the Santa Rosa refresh as a platform for smaller desktop PCs that have a stylish design to attract buyers. The platform offers quieter and cooler technology than other desktop products.

For handheld device makers, Don Larson, product line manager for Intel's flash memory products, unveiled the thumbnail-size Z-P140. The SSD is available in 2- or 4Gbyte models and weighs six-tenths of a gram.

Using an Intel controller, as many as four of the devices can be linked together for a maximum of 16Gbyte. The drives can be used in any device that supports a parallel ATA interface.

2008 SSD plan
In mid-2008, Intel plans to release SSDs that could be used as HDD replacements in notebooks. The drives would be available in a 1.8-inch or a 2.5-inch model. Further details will be released closer to the launch date.

The SSD market is growing, primarily because of the increasing demand for storage in consumer electronics, ranging from digital cameras and portable media players to smartphones. SSDs are also increasingly being used in notebooks to boot operating systems faster or as a HDD replacement. While SSDs are faster, more reliable, and quieter than HDDs, they are also vastly more expensive, which means their use in notebooks remains limited to niche markets. The overall SSD market this year is expected to reach $15.2 billion, according to Intel.

For the ultramobile market, which covers pocket-size devices, Intel said it remained on track to deliver its first generation low-power platform, code-named Menlow, in the first half of next year. The platform comprises a 45nm processor code-named Silverthorne and a chipset Intel is calling Poulsbo. Intel plans to showcase Menlow-based devices next month at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

In the first quarter of next year, Intel plans to ship a family of 45nm processors, code-named Penryn, for consumer desktops. The Core 2 quad-core and dual-core processors, formerly code-named Yorkfield and Wolfdale, respectively, will feature larger L2 caches for better performance and Intel's latest HD Boost technology for video, photo, and high-performance computing software applications.

Four or eight cores?
For video game and computer enthusiasts, Intel plans to release in the first quarter of next year the 45nm Core 2 Extreme QX9770 Processor, a quad-core product with a clock speed of 3.2GHz and a system bus of 1,600MHz. Along with the processor will be the X48 Express Chipset.

Also in Q1 2008, Intel plans to release for computer enthusiasts an eight-core platform code-named Skulltrail. The platform comprises two Core 2 Extreme quad-core processors and four PCI Express x16 Gen 1.1 slots for up to four graphics cards.

Intel is also developing products for the consumer electronics market, focusing on set-top boxes, digital media recorders, and digital TVs. The company plans to ship next year its first CE-optimized system on a chip, code-named Canmore.

Finally, Intel plans to ship an integrated Wi-Fi/WiMAX module, which will be available as an option for its next-generation Centrino platform, code-named Montevina and scheduled to ship next year.

Intel continues to work with Sprint and Clearwire on the deployment of a WiMAX network in the United States starting in 2008. WiMAX is a wireless broadband technology that's much faster than Wi-Fi and can cover a far wider area.

While Intel publicly remains confident that Sprint can deliver on its promise of building a WiMAX network, the telecommunications company has said that it's considering selling its stake in the network. Sprint had partnered with Clearwire to build the network, but recently terminated the contract.

- Antone Gonsalves

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