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Intel Unveils 'Menlow' Ultra Mobile Chips

One partner likely to take advantage of Intel's latest chips is Apple, which is expected to introduce a new MacBook or other handheld computer this month.

Intel on Monday introduced its first notebook processors built using the company's latest 45-nanometer manufacturing process, which delivers more powerful products that use the same or less energy than previous models.

Along with the five mobile chips, Intel unveiled four server processors, and seven desktop products. All the new processors were built using the same manufacturing process, and are lead and halogen free, making them more environmentally friendly.

The latest processors bring the number of 45-nm products from Intel to 32, including desktop, laptop, and server processors. Intel said it delivers higher power-to-performance ratios by packing more transistors in a chip by shrinking their size to 45 nm. The previous generation chips had 60-nm transistors.

Intel unveiled the new products at the International Consumer Electronics show, where chief executive Paul Otellini is scheduled to give a keynote speech Monday night. Otellini is expected to also introduce Intel's hardware and software partners that have agreed to support Intel's upcoming platform, code-named Menlow, for mobile Internet devices and the smallest of notebooks that trade power for longer battery life.

Intel is scheduled to start production of Menlow, which will include a new low-power 45-nm processor packages codenamed Silverthorne, this quarter, Anand Chandrasekher, senior VP and general manager of Intel's ultramobility group, told InformationWeek. In addition, Intel is building processors and chipsets for set-top boxes and digital video recorders. The platform, scheduled to ship this year, will use Menlow technology, but will be marketed under other names.

Intel's latest mobile processors are available on the company's dual-core Centrino platform for notebooks, which include the Intel 965 Express chipset. Optional with the platform are a third-party decoder for better performance in playing high-definition content in either HD DVD or Blu-ray format and support for 802.11n wireless networks. The latter is a Wi-Fi standard capable of streaming video.

Standard with the Centrino platform is Intel's latest Deep Power Down Technology that greatly reduces the power consumption of individual cores of a multi-core processor when they're not in use. In addition, the platform uses Intel's new SSE4 instruction set, which leads to faster processing of workloads, such as high-definition video encoding and photo manipulation.

One manufacturer expected to take advantage of Intel's latest chips is Apple, which industry watchers say is likely to introduce a new MacBook or other handheld computer at the Macworld Conference & Expo Jan. 14-18 in San Francisco.

Intel's latest chips for the mainstream desktop will include three Core 2 quad-core processors and four Core 2 dual-core products. The processors will feature a range of clock speeds, and up to 6 Mbytes of Level 2 cache. The dual-core products begin shipping this month, and the quad-core processors are expected later in the quarter.

Also shipping later this quarter are the four 45-nm Xeon processors for servers and workstations.

Intel started shipping 45-nm processors late last year, giving it a jump on rival Advanced Micro Devices. AMD is expected to deliver 45-nm products later this quarter. Code-named Shanghai, AMD's quad-core microprocessor is expected to be a server product under the Opteron brand.

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