At the Consumer Electronics Show, Intel announced 25 new chips in its Core family across all price points, based on its 32-nanometer architecture. The 32nm process will be used to "immediately produce and deliver processors," Intel said. Intel will integrate high-definition graphics into the processors.
The new family is the result of a $7 billion investment in new chip technology, the company said. It includes new Core i7, i5 and i3 processors, Intel 5 series chipsets, and Centrino Wi-Fi and WiMAX adapters. Intel expects some 400 laptop and desktop PC designs based on the new chips, as well as 200 designs for embedded devices.
"For the first time, there's a new family of Intel processors with the industry's most advanced technology available immediately at virtually every PC price point," said Sean Maloney, executive vice president and general manager of the Intel Architecture Group.
Now with Turbo Boost
"I think it qualifies as a pretty big leap," Charles King, principal analyst with Pund-IT, said in a call from the CES floor. "It's a firm move. While they've done multi-core processors in the past, they're adding some very interesting features in the first iterations."
Most interesting, King said, is Intel Turbo Boost technology, which allows processors to substantially beef up clock speed as high-bandwidth applications come online. As Maloney explained it, Turbo Boost allows the new processors to "adapt to an individual's needs, automatically providing a boost of performance for everyday applications. The chips can also save energy by reducing power consumption and shutting down cores when not needed, while providing power when it is needed."
At the Core press conference, Maloney demonstrated an i5 system with a 2.4-GHz base performance dialing up to 2.93 GHz when asked to handle intensive tasks, King said. In a side-by-side comparison with the older Duo technology, an i5-based system downloaded streaming video without a hiccup while the older system kept resorting to buffering, he added. Intel says high-bandwidth apps will see a performance improvement of two to three times in Turbo Boost mode.
"Turbo is something we're very proud of," Maloney said at the press conference. "It's the first time in the mainstream computer industry that we're dynamically changing the frequency based on the workload."
The Core i3, i5 and i7 processors feature what Intel calls "hyper-threading technology," which allows each processing core to run multiple threads, improving responsiveness and performance.
The new processor family integrates graphics into mainstream processors. Intel said the processors will deliver smooth high-definition playback and support mainstream 3-D gaming without a need for additional video cards. King was less enthusiastic about this development. "It's something the company feels it needs to do," he said, "and for casual users it will be fine."
The new Core embedded processors are expected to improve the computers everyone encounters in the physical world -- ATMs, digital signs, and medical devices.
New embedded devices will be able to optimize workloads, conserve power, and remotely manage networks.
"They see some really interesting opportunities in the embedded space," King said. "Retail point-of-sale devices and ATM machines are shifting from PIN- and signature-based security to fingerprint and facial-recognition technology, and the Core chips are being targeted to those kinds of applications."