Intel brings Nehalem to notebooks

Intel has moved its latest desktop and server chip architecture to the laptop with the announcement of its 45nm Core i7 mobile processor.
Written by Rupert Goodwins, Contributor
Intel has moved its latest desktop and server chip architecture to the laptop with the announcement of its 45nm Core i7 mobile processor, based on its new Nehalem micro-architecture.

Officially launched at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco on Wednesday morning, the chip is initially available in two standard and one Extreme Edition versions. Formerly known as Clarksfield, the quad-core chip combines Intel's Turbo Boost and Hyperthreading technologies.

See Also: Special Report: Intel Developer Forum

"It's a 2GHz chip, but with Turbo Boost it can go up to 3.2GHz," said Mooly Eden, vice president and general manager of Intel's PC Client Group. Turbo Boost works by switching off cores when not in use and overclocking the active cores left. "Clarksfield is the best quad-core, dual-core and single-core chip," said Eden.

The chips run at 45 watts, 55 watts for the Extreme Edition, and have an integrated memory controller — the first Intel mobile chips in this lower-cost, higher-performance configuration.

Dadi Perlmutter, newly promoted general manager of the Intel Architecture Group in charge of processors, said next year would see the Westmere 32nm designs in laptops, with the Arrandale processor adding on-chip graphics for another boost in performance and better power savings.

He also said that Intel was working on new security features for laptops. "Working with LoJack and available next year, we'll have new capabilities that let you send a message to a lost or stolen computer. If you're nice, you can say 'Please return my computer'. Some say 'The data is shredded, and so are you'."

Intel also unveiled Light Peak, a new optical fiber interconnection technology that it hopes will eventually replace most or all of the current cabling that computer and mobile users have to deal with.

Running at 10Gbps — enough to transfer a Blu-ray movie in under 30 seconds — and with a maximum reach of 100 meters, Light Peak is designed to carry high-definition video, networking traffic, and high volumes of other data at the same time. Capable of scaling up to 100Gbps, Intel says it is planning to have components ready for manufacturers in 2010.

"We know that legacy takes a long time to change," said Perlmutter, "but we're hoping that over time, this one single cable will replace huge amounts of cable". He said that the primary advantage of this wired system for mobile users is that "the amount of connectors you have in the back of your notebook is a limit to how small it can get".

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