Intel is indeed planning to launch 45-nanometer Penryn chips this year, several reports say. News.com's Tom Krazit, for one, says to expect Penryn server chips to arrive before Thanksgiving. (Link: Here.)
Intel appears to be using the relative health of the product family, which has been sampling to PC makers since earlier this year, to respond to the planned September debut of Advanced Micro Devices’ quad-core “Barcelona” Opteron.
Normally, when Intel is planning to introduce a processor early in the new year, in this case 2008, it begins shipping that chip during the fourth quarter so that it can be made available in systems on day of launch during the first quarter. But Intel has, of late, brought out its new processors as quickly as possible. Thus it appears to be ready to offer at least a few Penryn Xeon models in the fourth quarter. A November debut for the Penryn chips would mean they will arrive two to three months early. (Intel most likely would have announced Penryn desktop and notebook processors at the Consumer Electronics Show in early January.)
Delivering Penryn Xeons early will allow Intel to counter AMD’s claims that its new quad-core Opteron will outperform current Intel quad-core Xeon 5300 chips. Both the Opteron and the Penryn family offer double-digit performance gains versus today’s Intel chips, the two chipmakers say. Penryn-based desktop processors would also allow Intel to offer holiday PC buyers more performance as well, countering AMD’s Phenom processors due in the fourth quarter.
Thus the latest chapter in Intel vs. AMD is unfolding a little early. The testers are waiting…