Notebooks, Dual-Core And Deep Sleep

SAN FRANCISCO -– Intel made clear at its Intel Developers Forum (IDF) here that notebook computers are a full partner in its plans to move to dual-core processors.

“The benefit of dual-core is its ability to handle more work,” said Sean Maloney, executive vice president and general manager of the Intel Mobility Group.

Maloney and other Intel execs demonstrated how dual-core notebook prototypes could complete specific applications, such as photo rendering, faster than notebooks based on single or uni-core processors.

The other main advantage is dual-core’s ability to run separate applications, such as a back up program, without degrading a productivity application like a database or spreadsheet product.

In a way, Intel had no choice but to look for alternatives such as dual-core. “There are performance penalties for continuing up the megahertz ladder (on uni-core),” said Mike Feibus, analyst with TechKnowledge Strategies. “Also, there are more options for power management and for saving power with dual-core. It gives developers a lot more flexibility.”

Intel said its forthcoming multi-core mobile processor, codenamed Merom, is due to arrive in the second half of 2006. Officials here said they expect Merom’s energy-efficient, multi-core design to deliver three times the performance — per watt — of its earlier generation.

The update is one more reminder that power conservation is a key them at IDF.

Nearer term, Intel will release Napa later this year. Napa incorporates Intel’s first dual-core processor for mobile systems codenamed “Yonah.” Among other features, Yonah includes an enhanced “Deeper Sleep” mode that enables the processor to lower its voltage below normal sleep levels during periods of inactivity. The lower-voltage sleep state is accomplished by a dynamic flush of the chip’s L2 cache.

The chip giant said it knows of 220 different designs in development using Napa in mobile products.

Intel also announced it is renewing a long-standing technology alliance with Cisco. Among initiatives in mobile, Cisco is working with Intel on improving the quality of Voice-Over-IP (VOIP).

“In the next 12 to 15 months you’ll see us deliver enhanced VOIP quality over WiFi,” said Maloney, who conceded that today’s VoIP quality can be like a card player hoping for a a lucky draw. Cisco and Intel are working on ways for the WiFi connection to seek out and establish a guaranteed level of effective bandwidth.

Intel also announced a partnership with Panasonic. By April of next year, Panasonic is expected to deliver a longer lasting notebook battery, with as much as a 30 percent improvement over current models. Intel has a goal of working with partner companies to increase mainstream battery life to 8 hours by 2008.

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