Intel is promising faster performance and lower power requirements with the introduction of its next-generation desktop, laptop and server processors in the second half of 2007.
Based on the company's 45-nanometer manufacturing process and Core 2 architecture, the Penryn chips are designed to boost clock speeds and offer additional instructions for media processing and lower power requirements.
Intel said Penryn processors would improve virtualisation by speeding up virtual machine transition (entry/exit) times by an average of 25% to 75%. This would be done through microarchitecture improvements and would require no changes to virtual machine software, Intel said.
The mobile Penryn processor has a power management system dubbed Deep Power Down Technology. According to Intel, this reduces the power of the processor during idle periods so that internal transistor power leakage is no longer a factor. This would help to extend battery life in laptops, Intel said.
Intel is also developing a processor called Nehalem, which it said would offer direct connections between processor cores and an integrated memory controller to reduce cost and boost performance.
Intel has historically avoided tying processor designs to memory technology due to the different rates of change between the two. However, analyst firm Gartner believes that Intel's new two-year development cycle on processor architectures eliminates this concern.
Nehalem also reintroduces a form of hyperthreading - a feature that was originally offered on the Pentium 4 family - which is designed to allow the processor to run two tasks concurrently on a single core.
Additionally, Intel is planning to provide an integrated graphics controller on some client versions of the chip. Gartner said this would simplify system design and enable lower-cost PC desktops.
Gartner said the new processors would start appearing in servers in the fourth quarter of 2007 and in client systems early in 2008.
The analyst firm recommended that IT directors plan for significant system upgrades from Intel in 2008 across servers, workstations and mobile devices.
"Consider adoption of Penryn systems only once [PC] manufacturers deliver corporate systems at the same price as current systems, which will likely occur by mid-2008," it said.
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