Intel's Fast New Processor -- For Gamers Or Business?

Intel's new Core i7 processor, launched on Monday, is being praised as the fastest desktop processor "on Earth," and reviewers are already saying that it "destroys previous CPU benchmarks." It boasts features that save power -- and money -- and the cost is about right for smaller companies. Why, then, was the processor lineup being marketed primarily to gamers?

InformationWeek Staff, Contributor

November 18, 2008

3 Min Read

Intel's new Core i7 processor, launched on Monday, is being praised as the fastest desktop processor "on Earth," and reviewers are already saying that it "destroys previous CPU benchmarks." It boasts features that save power -- and money -- and the cost is about right for smaller companies. Why, then, was the processor lineup being marketed primarily to gamers?Intel debuted the Core i7 processor Monday evening at a shiny, flashy launch party in San Francisco. Though its press release states that the Core i7 processor -- the first member of a new family of Nehalem processor designs -- is ideal for "work and play," the focus was definitely on the latter at the party, with the majority of the huge screens displaying video games.

"This is the fastest processor on the planet," said Patrick Gelsinger, senior vice president and general manager of Intel's digital enterprise group.

The processors are already showing up in computers that specialize in games and content creation (see a review here), as Intel dubs the folks who use PCs for video, gaming, and music as "the most demanding users on Earth."

But what of the small and midsize businesspeople. Is this new processor -- priced at, for example, $1,249 for the Gateway FX6800-01e and $2,559 for the Velocity Micro Edge Z55 Launch Edition -- relevant? Certainly.

Intel's Turbo Boost technology accelerates performance to match a user's needs, and it uses power-gate transistors to adjust the clock speed of one or more of the four processing cores to boost performance -- without increasing power consumption. In another way to save power -- and, therefore, costs -- the Core i7 incorporates technologies formerly used by just Intel-based notebooks that now allow desktops to go into sleep states.

New York City-based Organic Motion offered the most entertaining demonstration by showing off its motion capture technology running on the Core i7 processor. A young man's dance moves inside a booth were immediately captured by Organic Motion's technology and rendered on a screen in various characters.

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Organic Motions CEO Andrew Tschesnok asked, aside from gamers, why would anyone want to use the Core i7 processors? Tschesnok explained that Intel's new processor isn't just a consumer gaming product but has a range of opportunities for businesses. Sure, the new processor is great if your company is into media and content creation, but there are other, less obvious opportunities. He used examples such as a bike shop using technology to capture the exact size of a bicycle for a person based on his or her size and orthotics being fit for people immediately.

Another demonstration involved the chip with Dikte, a language-translation system by CTD Systems. That company's CEO, Cetin Cetinturk, spoke Turkish into a mic and received almost-immediate voice recognition and translation. "In the near future we will be very close to human language recognition abilities," Cetinturk said. That could break down lots of barriers in global opportunity for business.

So although video games were the stars of Monday evening's launch party, with the crowd surging around the side of the room with the giant screens, visions of faster gaming dancing in their heads, the underlying message we gained was that consumer technology is leading the way for business technology.

The Core i7 processor is just the first member of the Nehalem family -- server and mobile versions are expected to be introduced later, which should be even more enticing to smaller companies.

As evidenced by this summer's new System on Chip designs from Intel, these new technologies could lead to mobile devices that will let users "carry small and live large."

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