Intel unveils dual-core details

Intel is bringing its Smithfield chip to market, but hasn't put much meat on its bare-bones announcement

Intel fleshed out its dual-core processor strategy on Tuesday by announcing the first desktop chip in the range.

The company said that the chip, codenamed Smithfield, will ship by mid-2005 and have two 90nm Pentium-class cores. However, it did not disclose whether the two cores would be on one silicon die or two separate processors in a single package, how it would be branded or what speeds it would run at, saying only that thermal considerations mean slower speeds than the current 3.8GHz top speed of the Pentium 4 570.

By 2006, Intel said it expects 70 percent of its performance desktop and mobile processors and 85 percent of server designs to be multi-core processors. The same timeframe will see the transition to 65-nanometre architectures: by 2008, the company predicted, performance of the chips will be 10 times that of today's single-core Pentium 4. Future architectural transitions are expected: 45nm in 2007, 32nm in 2009, and 22nm in 2011. The first mobile dual-core chip, codenamed Yonah, will be fabricated in 65nm technology and include power management: it will ship in 2005 with volume deliveries in 2006.

Other processor lines will get dual-core this year or next. Montecito, the dual-core Itanium chip, is expected in the second half of 2005 while the dual-core Xeon is predicted for the first quarter of 2006.

Intel has previously said that it plans to introduce virtualisation and hardware security features to its processors in 2006, and that it will enable 64-bit extensions when Microsoft's 64-bit Windows becomes available. Microsoft has recently published release candidates of Windows Server x64 and Windows XP Professional x64, with a commercial release planned for the first half of 2005.