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Intel to offer new architecture every two years

'Conroe' followed by 'Nehalem' followed by 'Gesher'

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Roadmap Intel will ship 'Conroe' in July and 'Merom' in August, CEO Paul Otellini said yesterday, illustrating his announcement with a slide using the icon of new buddy Apple's iCal application to indicate the ship dates.

Both CPUs are the first, respectively, desktop and notebook incarnations of Intel's upcoming performance-per-Watt targeting next-generation microarchitecture. 'Woodcrest', the server chip based on the same technology, will ship first, Otellini revealed, in June. It's in the server space that the company feels most vulnerable to AMD, and it's looking to the claimed 3x performance boost Woodcrest gives over a 2.8GHz Xeon DP to start winning business back from Opteron.

Indeed, the company forecast Woodcrest would account for half the Xeon DPs shipped in Q3 and around 70 per cent of the two-way server chips shipped in Q4.

Previous Intel roadmaps had pegged Merom for a Q4 release, but Intel clearly feels the need to bring it forward to drive the take-up of the current incarnation of Centrino, 'Napa', which is increasingly being touted as Centrino Duo. Indeed, Otellini's presentation made little or no reference to Core Solo, the single-core version of the dual-core 'Yonah' mobile CPU, Core Duo. By the end of 2006, Intel expects single-core CPUs to account for less than a quarter of its desktop and notebook performance product mix

However, it still looks like 'Santa Rosa', the next version of Centrino, won't appear until Q1/Q2 2007.

Two years on, we'll see the 45nm die-shrink of these 65nm chips, Otellini said, revealing a new, regular two-year update programme. That 45nm generation will be broadly codenamed 'Penryn' and be accompanied by its successor, 'Nehalem', a new microarchitecture. Come 2010, and Nehalem will be taken into the 32nm era as 'Nehalem C' and joined, in the same timeframe, by 'Gesher', Intel's third new microarchitecture in a six-year span.

Each new microarchitecture, he said, would be developed by separate design teams working in parallel and with specific process technology in mind. The goal: to win back the design leadership many observers and, judging by Otellini's words, Intel itself feel it has lost to AMD. ®

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