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Intel goes public with quad-core roadmap

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IDF Intel's first mainstream quad-core processor will be branded Core 2 Quad, the company confirmed at its bi-annual developer forum today. The chip family will ship in Q1 2007 - at least two months after the first Intel quadie, a new Core 2 Extreme, debuts in November 2006.

Quad-core Xeons - codenamed 'Clovertown' - will also debut in November, as the 5300 series, Intel CEO Paul Otellini said today, promising a performance boost of around 50 per cent over the dual-core 'Woodcrest' Xeon DP.

Otellini claimed the new quad-core Extreme - aka 'Kentsfield' - would be up to 70 per cent faster than the current, dual-core incarnation, the X6800. That said, he was quiet on the subject of power consumption - unsurprising, perhaps, since the quad-core chip is expected to consume more power than its predecessor. That's certainly the case with Clovertown, which is expected to consume 120W in its top-of-the-line form, though Otellini touted a 50W quad-core Xeons - low-voltage parts, presumably - later in 2007. There will also be 80W, "mainstream" parts.

Presumably Otellini was referring to the 1.6GHz L5301 down for a Q1 2007 debut on Intel's roadmap, according to recent reports.

Expect four 5300-series Xeons: the E5310, E5320 and E5345, clocked at 1.60GHz, 1.86GHz and 2.33GHz, respectively, and the 2.66GHz X5355. The first three CPUs run over a 1066MHz frontside bus, while the X5355 has a 1333MHz FSB. All four contain 8MB of L2 cache, split between two core pairs that make up each processor.

Intel's going top plug these into its 'Caneland' platform in Q3 2007, which supports 667MHz FB-DIMM memory and a 34GBps frontside bus.

Intel also unveiled the Xeon 3200 series, aimed at single-processor workstations, and said it will ship in Q1 2007 alongside the desktop quadies, largely because they're all essentially the same chip, Kentsfield.

The first Kentsfield will be the QX6700, Intel confirmed, though the company didn't admit it's a 2.66GHz chip, as is believed to be the case. The first Core 2 Quad will be the 2.4GHz Q6600. Some 13 system builders have confirmed they will ship machines based on quad-core Extreme CPUs at launch, Otellini said.

Otellini didn't address the mobile market, but Intel VP Stephen Smith admitted the company needs to get the thermal envelope down before we see Core 2 Quads for notebooks. However, he hinted that initial mobile chips may focus on gaming, suggesting a laptop-oriented version of the Core 2 Extreme is on the cards. ®

Read Reg Hardware's complete IDF Fall 06 coverage here

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