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Intel plans power cuts for Harpertown

And explains the importance of the Atom

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CeBIT Intel said it would begin shipping its Harpertown low voltage processor in the next few weeks as it wrings out everything it can from its 45nm architecture before it begins the shift to 32nm next year.

Intel enterprise marketing director Shannon Poulin, in an update of the vendor’s server roadmap, said its 32 nanometer technology would first appear under the codename Westmere, with a ground-up rebuild of the architecture the following year under the codename Sandy Bridge.

This will keep Intel in line with its tick/tock strategy of introducing a new chip geometry every couple of years, with a re-architecture of its products after a year.

On the server side, in the meantime, the vendor plans to release the low voltage version of its 45nm Harpertown product in the coming weeks. This will be a four core, two socket part, with a 50w power envelope – or 10w per core. Poulin claimed it would consume 35 per cent less power than the current product, at the same level of performance.

In the second half of the year, Dunnington will be a six core part that will be socket compatible with the Xeon 7300. It will also be built on the vendor’s 45nm, high K technology it is trumpeting at CeBIT this week.

The server line will also benefit from the arrival of Nehalem, the ground up re-architecting of the 45nm platform due late this year. And somewhere, way in the distance, we can still see Tukwilla.

The vendor also fleshed out of its Atom chip strategy this morning. Zane Ball, director of microprocessor product marketing, explained Intel’s latest neologism, the Nettop, which he said would be targeted at “basic internet connectivity content consumption”.

It seems the devices could potentially do everything PC users might want to do – make VoIP calls, watch high-def video, browse the net – just not necessarily all at the same time. To do that, users will need to buy a proper PC. He predicted the devices would come in at under $300, with some eventually coming in at less than $100.

The vendor also displayed more Mobile Internet Devices based on the Atom chip. These included a Linux-based device from BenQ which should ship this summer, and a Toshiba device running Vista. It also showed the Panasonic ToughBook, that will also run Vista. ®

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