RealTime IT News

Intel, AMD Serve Up Computex News

The annual Computex hardware conference kicks off in Taipei this week, meaning a lot of people have made 16-hour flights from the U.S. to Taiwan in recent days. The news coming from the heavyweights in the component business, though, is modest.

AMD will announce its first platform partners for Barcelona, the forthcoming Opteron server processor design and offer its first public demos of the final silicon. Intel will also have its share of news with a trio of announcements around its future chipsets and a mobile Core 2 Duo Extreme processor for mobile computing.

While there have been demos of Barcelona in recent weeks, including a dual processor/eight core machine at the WinHEC conference in Los Angeles last month, none of those were with the final design. What will be shown in Taipei is the final design, according to Ron Myers, division marketing manager for AMD  validated solutions.

AMD will highlight a new, as-yet undisclosed feature of Barcelona called Dual Dynamic Power Management, which allows for independent management of power to the CPU and memory controller. This is done through a split plane motherboard design that allows for power to be controlled separately between the two.

In a unified plane motherboard, the same amount of power goes to both the CPU and memory controller. However, Myers said that if the processor was performing a CPU-intensive task, it could not drop the power to the memory because both memory and CPU power were linked. If you dropped power to the memory, you would cut power to the CPU.

Now, if a computer is performing a task that is either CPU or memory-intensive, power to the idle component can be reduced. Myers estimates a seven percent performance benefit, as it will now be possible to reduce power at the expense of processing power. He did not have a measure as yet for potential power savings.

AMD will also announce that Tyan, Supermicro and Uniwide Technologies will be the first server platforms to support Barcelona and demonstrating Barcelona systems. Name vendors like Dell and HP won't be making any announcements at the show since Computex is channel-centric show aimed at component makers.

Intel's  executive vice president Sean Maloney will introduce the new Intel 3 Series Chipset, developed under the codename "Bearlake." These new chipsets, sold under the product names P35 and G33, are designed for Core 2 Duo and Quad processors for home and business PC users.

They are also designed to be used with the company’s upcoming "Penryn" family of 45nm processors later this year. Intel claims more than 100 motherboard designs are on the drawing boards for Penryn.

Maloney will also announce that Intel and component maker Asustek are working together to offer a family of education focused, low-cost mobile PCs, with one model below $200. The computers will be a part of Intel's World Ahead program to provide low-cost hardware for the world-wide market.

Finally, Maloney will announce the Core 2 Extreme mobile processor for laptops, a move that may seem counterintuitive. The Extreme Edition processors have always been aimed at gamers, while the mobility market has been concerned with power consumption over processing power.

However, Intel spokesperson George Alfs pointed out that more and more gamers are moving toward laptops for traveling to LAN parties and such as laptop video and CPU performance continues to improve. Alienware, the Dell subsidiary that builds high performance computers aimed at the gamer market, already has a line of gamer-oriented laptops. These machines are meant to be operated while plugged into a wall, so maximum battery life is not the top concern.