Intel's Dual-Core Chips Debut

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SAN FRANCISCO -- Intel outlined its plans for a dual-core mobile processor and platform technology this week, but declined to provide any details about the dual-core future of its flagship Pentium 4 desktop processor.

The company's first dual-core notebook product is code-named Yonah. It will be a 65 nanometer version of the Pentium M processor and it will come with a new set of accompanying technology grouped under the Napa code name.

Yonah and Napa will succeed the Sonoma platform that is slated for availability in the first quarter of 2005. Sonoma includes support for DDR2 memory and improved integrated graphics in the Alviso chip set.

Coming Soon?

Napa will address many of the issues that can affect mobile computing, such as battery life and security, said Anand Chandrasekher, vice president and general manager of Intel's Mobile Platforms Group, at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco. He declined to specify a time frame for the Napa introduction, but Intel tends to roll out new chip set technology once every 12 months, putting Napa on track for 2006.

Yonah will come with power-management technology that can shut down one of the processor cores if the application workload is light, Chandrasekher said. It will also feature Intel's VT technology for virtualization and LT technology for security, he said.

Intel doesn't plan to introduce VT or LT technology until Microsoft releases Longhorn, the long-awaited next-generation version of the Windows operating system, said Intel President and Chief Operating Officer Paul Otellini during his keynote on Tuesday. Microsoft is currently expected to release Longhorn in 2006.

Napa will also feature an updated version of Intel's wireless chip that will be called Golan, Chandrasekher said.

Dual-Core Demo

Chandrasekher was preceded by Intel Vice President and General Manager Bill Siu, who runs Intel's Desktop Platforms Group along with Louis Burns. Siu demonstrated a three-way video conferencing application that would help mobile workers collaborate on common projects.

At the end of the demonstration, Siu offhandedly mentioned that one of the PCs used in the demonstration was running on a dual-core desktop processor. In a question-and-answer session following the keynote, Siu called the processor an "engineering prototype" and declined to discuss its architecture, features, release schedule, or even its code name, in sharp contrast to the way the dual-core Yonah mobile processor was unveiled.

Intel's plans to bring dual-core chips to its desktop, notebook, and server processors in 2005 have been one of the central themes of this IDF, but the company has not said very much at all about its plans for the Xeon and Pentium 4 processors based on the Netburst architecture. Intel is eventually expected to move away from the power-hungry Netburst architecture but it plans to keep that architecture for the first dual-core desktop and server chips, according to sources.

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