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Inside Intel's Spring Analyst Meeting: 8 Things To Know About Its Quad Core, Penryn, Silverthorne & Mobile Plans

We came back from Intel's Spring Analyst Meeting with this guide to the technology efforts you should watch out for in 2007 and 2008, plus an image gallery of notable slides from the chipmaker's annual presentation.

Inside Intel

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At Intel's Spring Analyst Meeting in New York City on May 3, chief executive Paul Otellini and his brain trust provided detailed insight into the chipmaker's plans. Amid an intense focus on cost-cutting following the tough business environment of the past few years, Intel emphasized its intentions to go full-bore with new technologies.

On tap are numerous dual- and quad-core processors, the debut of an advanced 45-nanometer manufacturing process, and an ambitious attempt to jump-start the widespread use of handheld Internet devices. After sifting through the information at the sessions, we present our summary of the most important takeaways from Intel's near-term road map, along with an image gallery of the most notable PowerPoints from the executive presentations.

Chips For Handheld Web Browsers

 Code names of the processors on Intel's road map. The Core micro-architecture, already here, will spread throughout Intel's processor lineup this year.

(click image for larger view)

Code names of the processors on Intel's road map. The Core micro-architecture, already here, will spread throughout Intel's processor lineup this year.

view the image gallery

Intel is calling the downsized device it sees as the next big thing the UMPC, for Ultra-Mobile PC. But it's really a smart- or iPhone on steroids, with beefed-up Web browsing abilities.

"In the next couple of years, we'll see [the] beginnings of these mobile Internet devices," Otellini said. "They're around now, but not in great volume."

Intel already has launched its first UMPC-class processor, in the form of a chip called McCaslin. Interestingly, it's used not in a handheld browser but in the Apple TV. A more powerful chip -- the one which Intel is really pitching for these handheld browsers -- is code-named Menlow. It will be ready in the first half of 2008. Unlike McCaslin, which Intel says runs Windows, Menlow will run Windows and Linux.

After Menlow, smaller, faster, and less power-hungry processors are planned. "This is just the beginning for us," said Anand Chandrasekhar, the general manager of Intel's ultra mobility group. "We get the base technology elements in place with the Menlow platform and then we iterate on that and get the power down and performance up."

More 'Core,' More Quad-Cores

What's in a "Core"? For Intel, the word cuts both ways: Core with a capital "c" is the name of the micro-architecture which is powering Intel's newest processors. Lower-case core is in abundance, too, at Intel, because dual- and quad-core processors constitute its most profitable chips.

Intel already offers several quad-core desktop chips, as part of its Core 2 Quad and Core 2 Extreme families. On the server side, Intel ships no less than nine quad Xeons, in its 5300, low-voltage 5300, and 7300 series.

 Harpertown and Yorkfield will be Intel's first 45-nanometer quads. (65-nanometer quad cores already are shipping.)

(click image for larger view)

Harpertown and Yorkfield will be Intel's first 45-nanometer quads. (65-nanometer quad cores already are shipping.)

view the image gallery

At the Spring Analyst event, Intel emphasized the Core architecture as a whole -- which includes both two- and four-way chips -- more than it did quad core specifically. Said Otellini: "We will ramp our Core micro-architecture, top to bottom, in all market segments: Single, dual- and quad-core."

Core is characterized by a feature called "wide-dynamic execution." More important, it operates at lower power than does the Netburst architecture, which powered the Pentium 4. "We expect to be 100%, top to bottom, with [the Core] micro-architecture, by year end," said Otellini. "We are moving very aggressively to replace all the products, even down in the Pentium space and Celeron space, with variants of [Core] over the course of this year. This gives us a performance lead in each of those segments, and it gives us a serious cost advantage."

Nevertheless, it's clear that quads will become increasingly important for Intel, moving forward. On tap for release in the second half of this year are two new quads based on Intel's latest 45-nanometer chip technology: Yorkfield for desktops and Harpertown for servers.

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