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Intel renames power tech for desktop world

Leverages Intel SpeedStep not AMD's Cool'n'Quiet

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Listen to the AMD fanboys, and you'd think Intel's plan to introduce power-conservation technology to future desktop, workstation and server chips is yet another instance of the chip giant nicking technology developed by its smaller rival.

AMD introduced the Athlon 64 FX gaming-oriented CPU then Intel launched the Pentium 4 Extreme Edition. AMD introduced AMD64 64-bit technology then Intel announced its own version, EM64.

And now, apparently, Intel will ape AMD's Cool'n'Quiet technology, which helps keep processors cool by dropping the clock speed and core voltage when the processor's workload tails off.

What the fanboys forget is that Intel doesn't need to borrow such technology from AMD, it already has it. It's called SpeedStep, and we'd hazard a guess that it's been around a little longer than AMD's chief power technology, PowerNow!. PowerNow! - codenamed 'Gemini', by the way - was announced in November 1999 with AMD's mobile K6-2 and K6-III processors, but didn't ship until Q2 2000; SpeedStep - aka 'Geyserville' was introduced in the same timeframe as the PowerNow! announcement, but appeared in Q1 2000.

Not that Cool'n'Quiet is exactly new, either. As we reported last September at the Athlon 64 launch, when CnQ was introduced, this 'new' technology is really just PowerNow! rebranded. Similarly, Intel's AAC is essentially just SpeedStep with another name.

AMD came up with the CnQ brand because it uses the same die for both desktop and mobile Athlon 64s. PowerNow! is too readily associated with the mobile arena to be used in a desktop chip, so AMD conjured up an alternative brand. A different name also allows AMD to promote the technology not so much as a power conservation system - though that's still important - but as a way of making computers run more silently. When there's less heat to dissipate, PCs can slow or even stop the CPU cooling fans, hence making them quieter.

Intel is simply employing the same tactic with SpeedStep. ®

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