Intel January 2007 Sneak Peeks
Yesterday, we had the opportunity to wine and dine with the folks at Intel. Of course, these sessions are always great for juicy tidbits, so let's check out the latest updates at Intel.
Core 2 Quad Q6600
On January 21st, Intel will launch their first mainstream quad-core processor - the Core 2 Quad Q6600. Like the Core 2 Extreme QX6700, it is made up of two Conroe dies sitting on a single package.
As such, its 8MB Level 2 cache is not completely shareable between all four cores. Rather, it's split into two separate 4MB caches, each of which is shareable between their respective core pairs.
According to Intel, we will not see a true quad-core (four cores on a die) processor until the second half of this year. Codenamed Yorkfield, it will debut in the new 45nm process and come with a fully-shared 8MB L2 cache.
The new Q6600 processor will run at 2.4 GHz with a 1066 MHz FSB. Other than the slower clock speed and locking of the multipliers, the new Core 2 Quad Q6600 is virtually similar to the Core 2 Extreme QX6700. Its official price will only be announced on January 21st but we expect it to be significantly lower than $999, which was what the QX6700 debuted at.
Incidentally, Intel will release even cheaper versions of these quad-core processors in the second half of 2007. These are likely to be lower-speed versions of the Core 2 Quad Q6600, although the use of 2MB Conroe dies to create Core 2 Quad processors with just 4MB of L2 cache cannot be ruled out just yet.
Although we expected Intel to launch Santa Rosa by Q2 of this year, it appears that the new Centrino Pro platform will only be launched in the second half of this year. The launch date has been tentatively said to be around the middle of the second half, putting it around September or October 2007.
As of this moment, Intel has yet to decide the components that are necessary to qualify for the Centrino brand, but here are some juicy facts about the upcoming platform upgrade.
The Santa Rosa platform will support NAND flash for faster boot-ups and recovery from hibernations. This is similar to the NAND flash technology used in new hybrid hard drives like the Seagate Momentus 5400 PSD. Not only does the flash memory allow faster boot-ups and recovery from hibernations, it also allows the hard drive to spin down more often, saving power and reducing wear and tear.
The NAND flash memory will be made available in the form of PCI Express x1 cards with capacities of 512MB or 1GB. The size of flash memory included in each notebook will be up to the ODM although it should be possible to upgrade it yourself.
As you probably know by now, the Centrino Pro will feature an Intel PRO/Wireless 802.11n WiFi adaptor allowing for very high data rates (up to 540 Mbits/s) but is backward-compatible with 802.11a/b/g. Intel says that they are also considering adding 3G support but whether it truly becomes part of the platform remains to be seen.
The other features of the Santa Rosa are well-known by now. It will have an 800MHz FSB with a mobile i965 Express chipset. It will also feature improved graphics performance thanks to the integrated GMA X3000 graphics circuitry.
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