Intel Shifts Chips From PCs To Consumer Electronics - InformationWeek

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Intel Shifts Chips From PCs To Consumer Electronics

A major focus of Intel for next year is its plans for what it calls "system-on-chip" (SoC) products.

Intel unveiled this week a variety processors and related technology that indicates the chipmaker is in the throes of an aggressive development roadmap that spans PCs, computer servers and consumer electronics.

The company discussed more than 20 new products, technology innovations and initiatives at the Intel Developer Forum (IDF), held for the first time in Beijing. Intel made the announcements Tuesday morning in China.

The foundation of Intel's upcoming processors is its 45-nanometer manufacturing process that enables the company to double the transistor density of a chip, compared to the older 65-nanometer technology. The measurement refers to transistor-line width.

The new manufacturing process, which Intel is using to deliver product this year, promises to produce higher-performing chips that use less power and generate less heat. Intel rival Advanced Micro Devices is also moving toward 45-nm manufacturing, but at a slower pace than Intel. AMD plans to use the technology in its next-generation processors that integrate x86 and graphic cores on one chip. Code named Fusion, the processors are scheduled for release in 2009.

In the meantime, Intel is marching on. "It's really clear now that Intel is on a much more aggressive development cycle (than before)," Martin Reynolds, analyst for Gartner, said.

Intel plans to start shipping the first of its family of 45-nm server processors, code-named Penryn, in the second half of this year. Scheduled for production next year is Nehalem, which will contain four processors on a single chip. Intel currently has a quad-core processor that's actually two integrated duo-core chips.

A major focus of Intel for next year is its plans for what it calls "system-on-chip" (SoC) products, which would integrate several key system components into a single Intel architecture-based processor. The first of the products for business and high-performance computing, codenamed Tolapai, would have a footprint that's 45% less than a standard four-chip design, and use 20% less power. At the same time, Tolapai would have better throughput performance and processor efficiency, Patrick Gelsinger, senior vice president and general manager of Intel's Digital Enterprise Group, was scheduled to say in a keynote to IDF.

Tolapai is expected to contain Intel's new Quick Assist Integrated Accelerator Technology, which is meant to help optimize the use of accelerators in servers. Accelerators are used to increase the performance of a single function, such as security encryption or financial computations, while reducing power consumption.

Intel also unveiled plans to bring its SoC architecture to consumer electronics devices, such as digital set-top boxes, TVs and networked media players. Intel's first CE-targeted product was scheduled for next year, and would pair the Intel chip architecture with audio-visual processing, graphics, and other functions.

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