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Chipzilla announces announcements

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Intel has announced what it plans to announce next month.

This morning, at a hotel in downtown San Francisco, Chipzilla nearly put a room full of reporters to sleep with a "pre-CES briefing," telling us what it intends to tell us at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas come January.

The company's biggest piece of non-news is that it will soon launch a "Santa Rosa Refresh." It's an update to Intel's Centrino mobile platform that includes a 45nm Intel Core 2 Duo CPU. You know, the chip code-named Penryn, which uses the company's new high-k metal gate transistors. Of course, Intel would prefer it if we said "Hi-K."

Brian Tucker, an Intel mobile platform marketing manager, bragged that Intel is the first chip maker to bring a 45nm CPU to mobile machines, but he also talked up two new marketing monikers making their debut with the Santa Rosa Refresh: Intel HD Boost and Deep Power Down.

Intel HD Boost is shorthand for a set of micro-architectural improvements designed to improve graphics performance. "This brings up new ways we can do 3D rendering, new ways that we can process all the calculations that go into making graphics so real that it becomes almost unbelievable, and new ways of processing all the video that's played on a notebook," Tucker said, breathlessly.

Meanwhile, Deep Power Down is an attempt to describe how well the new platform conserves juice. "When the CPU is completely active, when both cores are fully active, it consumes a full amount of power," Tucker tried to explain. "But as those cores become less active, we can begin to put them to sleep, and we can begin to put more and more elements of the processor and its surrounding components to sleep and reach an extremely low idle power when it's not being used."

But Tucker doesn't always call it Deep Power Down. Sometimes, he calls it "HUGI." "The HUGI model is simply this: Hurry Up and Get Idle," he said.

What's more, Intel has confirmed that it will soon ship a new chip platform for so-called mobile internet devices (MPCs) and ultra-mobile PCs (UMPCs). Yes, those are two different things. Evidently.

If you care about code names, this "Menlow" platform consists of a "Silverthorne" CPU and a "Poulsbo" chipset. Due to ship in the first half of next year, it's Intel's shameless attempt to catch up with the iPhone.

"The full internet in your pocket is a fundamental belief at Intel," said Gary Willihnganz, director of marketing in Intel's ultra mobile group. "We're enabling our customers to bring great products to the marketplace that can deliver a full PC-like internet - rich, immersive, real." At CES, Intel will likely demonstrate devices from Aigo, Asus, BenQ, Clarion, Compas, Elektrobit, Inventec, Lenovo, and Quanta.

Intel has also introduced an ultra-tiny solid state drive for the Menlow platform. The Intel Z-P140 PATA is "smaller than a penny" and weighs no more than "a drop of water," but offers 2 to 4GB of storage.

"As Gary described, mobile internet devices are being made smaller, more portable, more personal, so you can get take that full rich internet experience with you in your pocket," said Don Larson, who did not pitch a perfect game for the Yankees in 1956. "Well, you need a storage solution that will help fit that mobile internet device in your pocket." By 2010, Larson says, Intel will squeeze 64GB onto this minuscule drive.

You still want more? Intel says that sometime next year it will introduce a version of Centrino that includes both WiFi and WiMAX modules. This contraption is codenamed "Montevina." The company insists that WiMAX is the future of broadband wireless internet, choosing to ignore the recent struggles of Clearwire and Sprint. ®

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