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AMD vs Intel: The future of desktop CPUs

2008 uncovered as AMD and Intel go head-to-head

We've uncovered both Intel and AMD's plans for processors in 2008, so just what will consumers see coming to market over the next year?

Intel's mobile CPU highlights

Around March or April, Intel will release the mobile version of its Penryn processor under the Core 2 brand. Various mobile CPUs will be released throughout 2008, and it's highly likely that consumers will see quad-core mobile processors from Intel in the second half of the year, possibly as early as late spring. It is not clear what clock speed these processors will run at, but a version that Intel showed in October 2007 sported two shared 6MB L2 caches on the die.

In the same time frame, Intel will launch an all-new Centrino mobile platform code-named Montevina that includes a new CPU, a new chipset and a new wireless adaptor.

Montevina's new chipset is code-named Cantiga and will mark the debut of a 1066MHz front-side bus at the mobile level. Shiloh, the code name for the new wireless adaptor, has been rumoured to support WiMax (also known as 802.16), a long-range protocol that theoretically permits the transmission of wireless data signals over ranges of up to 30 miles, although it has never been put into practice in any consistent way. Montevina is also rumoured to support the new DisplayPort standard, which specifies a methodology for connecting a PC to displays and external audio sources.

In the first half of 2008, Intel will release an ultramobile processor code-named Silverthorne. This 45nm CPU is an integral component of Intel's future CPU plans, particularly in the expanding universe of smartphones and other internet-ready handheld devices. The key to Silverthorne is its extremely low-power consumption. Intel has reported that these processors' power needs are about 15 times lower than the chip maker's lowest-power dual-core processor.

AMD makes its move

For AMD, 2007 was not exactly the company's finest year. Missed ship dates and inferior processor performance blemished the spunky chip maker's fairly favourable track record of providing solid performance at affordable prices. Industry analysts were quick to point the finger at AMD's acquisition of graphics manufacturer ATI, claiming that the company had bitten off more than it could chew.

For its part, AMD has been surprisingly candid about its issues and is hopeful that 2008 will tell a different story. At the end of 2007, AMD bid its Athlon series of CPUs adieu and finally released its next-generation Phenom processors, a product line that included the intriguing presence of a triple-core line of processors. One of the biggest advantages AMD has been able to claim over Intel is that Phenom processors are the first native quad-core CPUs on the market, meaning all cores are integrated on to a single die. A shared L3 cache and improved power management were also touted as key features in this new microarchitecture.

NEXT PAGE: AMD's plans to correct its mistakes in 2007 and its 2008 Phenom lineup.


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