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Intelís Latest Chips: Itís All About (Low) Power
By: Terri Wells
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    Table of Contents:
  • Intelís Latest Chips: Itís All About (Low) Power
  • Donít Forget the Batteries
  • The Soul of a New Machine
  • And What about AMD?

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    Intelís Latest Chips: Itís All About (Low) Power

    (Page 1 of 4 )

    Continuing the de-emphasis on speed, Intel's latest crop of chips will offer lower, more efficient power consumption. This should be good news for fans of mobile devices. Keep reading to find out more about the how and why of this change, and AMD's response.

    Anyone with a laptop who likes to take it on long trips knows about certain imperfections in our technological revolution: electronic devices, especially those that boast computer chips, never run on battery power quite as long as advertised. Even when they do, that never seems like long enough. Cell phones die after a couple of hours of talk time. Laptops die after four to six hours of constant use away from a wall socket (if youíre lucky). What good is having these gadgets if they start doing bad imitations of Scotty from the starship Enterprise (ďCapín, I cannae do it! We need more power!Ē)? Or worse, Dr. McCoy (ďSheís dead, JimĒ)?

    Intel believes it has come up with the answer to this problem. Its next generation of chips is based on a low power micro-architecture. As you might expect, itís a smaller manufacturing process Ė 65nm as opposed to the companyís current 90nm technology Ė but the company is fine tuning certain details to make these chips consume far less power than their predecessors. Ultimately, Intel claims that it will lead to a portable computer with a battery that lasts all day.

    According to Intel CEO Paul Otellini, the new architecture merges the companyís Netburst and Banias micro-architectures. Netburst brings high performance computing to the equation, while Banias boasts low power consumption. ďWeíre combining the best of these two architectures in one to create the next generation power optimized architecture,Ē said Otellini at the opening keynote of the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco.

    We will have to wait until the second half of 2006 before we get to see these chips in action. But they arenít going to be just for mobile devices, to judge from the codenames. Sure, thereís Merom for mobile devices, but thereís also Conroe for desktops, and Woodcrest and Whitefield for servers.

    Before we take a closer look at what Intel has done with this new technology, and how it achieves the improvements in power and performance, letís take a quick look at why Intel is being pushed to make these changes. After all, in its own literature, itís pushing the advantages of lower power consumption over the performance improvements. Why isnít it all about speed anymore?

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