On Monday Intel announced the first mobile quad-core processor called Penryn. The new silicon is the cousin to the Penryn desktop processor, the Core 2 Extreme QX9650, announced on 12 November 2007.
The next generation transistors, used in the new Penryn processors (Intel Core 2 Duo, Intel Core 2 Quad and Xeon family) feature "new high-k + metal gate material that will allow for higher frequencies, lower resistance, less leakage and lower power consumption."
Aside from the simple fact that the new 45nm process will allow for double transistor density over current generation processors, Intel also promises that the new microarchitecture will offer a significant performance-per-watt increase over current 65nm technology. Other benefits of the new 45nm process and high-k and metal gate combination will be:
Significant reduction in transistor switching power
Improvement in transistor switching speed
Reduction in source-drain leakage power
Reduction in gate oxide leakage power
Greater energy efficiency
According to AppleInsider Penryn-based Core 2 notebook chips boost battery performance by as much as 16 percent and encoding operations by as much 40 percent over Merom processors in mobile benchmark tests.
Penryn is the successor to the fourth-generation Intel (Santa Rosa) Centrino notebook processor currently shipping in the current MacBook and MacBook Pro. Penryn chips have already started shipping PC notebooks from HP, Toshiba and Fujitsu.
The MacBook Pro was last updated on 5 June 2007 with the Santa Rosa processor and new NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT 250 days ago. The MacBook was last updated just 72 days ago (on 31 October 2007) with Santa Rosa and Intel GMA X3100 video.
While the MacBook is still pretty current the MacBook Pro is due for a refresh. I'd love to see a new quad-core Penryn MBP announced at MWSF - ideally in an entirely new enclosure.