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Intel's Atom laptots 'are here'

Sings Calpella too

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IDF Intel gave its increasingly crowded mobile chip range an airing at IDF Tuesday, showing systems running on its mobile quad-core chips and on the 'Calpella' platform due to launch next year.

Dadi Perlmutter, executive VP and general manager in Intel’s mobile platforms group, showed systems running on the Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9300 and the Intel Core 2 Quad 9100, during a presentation today. The 45nm chips run four cores at 2.53GHz, packing 12MB of Level 2 cache. The 9100 bears a Centrino 2 label, and is being pitched at the workstation category, while the Extreme QX9300, unsurprisingly, is aimed at the extreme gamer market.

Looking ahead, Perlmutter demonstrated a Calpella system. This is the mobile implementation of the 'Nehalem' architecture due to start appearing on the desktop by the end of this year. The Nehalem microarchitecture will be used in everything from servers down to laptops. When Calpella systems appear late next year, they will, presumably, benefit from the platform’s increased power efficiency, which will allow individual cores - four initially – to be powered down. It will also include the turbo boost technology, which reroutes power to individual processors to jack up performance, while leaving other cores idle.

At the other end of the spectrum, Perlmutter showed a rake of small form-factor processors, including two Power Optimised Performance parts, two ultra low voltage and two low voltage parts, a new Core 2 Solo, and a new Intel Celeron. The chips come in at around 22x22mm, compared to the 35mm squared their big brothers take up.

Sticking with the small form factor market, Perlmutter told his audience that Atom-based “netbooks are here”. Perlmutter had a heap of Atom-based netbooks and mobile internet devices on stage, and his presentation seemed to suggest Atom-based systems will account for over a third of Intel’s notebook shipments by 2012.

Perlmutter accepted that Atom-based systems could cannibalise Intel's regular notebook chips at the low end, but said this wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, presumably because the sort of customers happy with a netbook would not have made full use of a higher specced machine. ®

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