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Intel sheds light on 2005 desktop strategy

Road map promises 64bit capabilities for desktop processors by first half of 2005

Intel's products for the digital home and digital office in 2005 will give consumers and IT managers more capabilities than just raw performance.

Intel President and Chief Operating Officer Paul Otellini has promised that Intel learned a great deal during a tumultuous 2004. Having cancelled two single-core desktop and server designs and announced plans to accelerate the development of dual-core processors, the company will now focus on the functionality it thinks its customers want.

Intel's first Centrino-like desktop platform, codenamed Lyndon, will target both the digital home and digital office in 2005. It will feature Pentium 4 processors with 2MB of cache and 64bit extensions to the x86 instruction set, Otellini said.

Intel will "aggressively" bring 64bit capabilities to its desktop processors in the first half of 2005, said Intel spokesman. Intel previously said it would turn on the 64bit extensions within the Prescott processor when operating system support became available, and Microsoft's 64bit Windows XP operating system is scheduled to ship in the first quarter of next year after many delays.

Lyndon's chipset will support Intel's active management technology feature for helping IT managers access inactive PCs hooked up to a company's network. The entire platform will also make use of Intel's Enhanced SpeedStep technology, a mobile feature that regulates power consumption by scaling back processor frequency during periods of inactivity.

In 2006, Intel will bring out the Bridge Creek and Averill platforms for the digital home and digital office. These platforms will feature Intel's security and virtualisation technologies that it highlighted at recent Intel Developer Forum conferences.

Microsoft's next update to the Windows operating system, code-named Longhorn, will be required to take advantage of the hardware-based security and virtualisation technologies that Intel plans for 2006, Otellini said.

Despite all the focus on platform technologies, Intel does in fact still make microprocessors. The single-core Pentium 4 processors with 2MB of cache memory will be followed by the dual-core Smithfield processor in late 2005, Otellini said.

Smithfield is based on two Prescott processor cores, or the 90-nanometer version of Intel's Pentium 4 processor. The Smithfield design will be followed in 2006 by the 65-nanometer Cedar Mill design, Otellini said. The company demonstrated a video editing application running on a Smithfield PC, and showed a silicon wafer made up of Cedar Mill chips.

Intel's strategy on the mobile side of its business has been clear for several months. Otellini reiterated plans to bring out the Sonoma platform in the first quarter as an update to the original Centrino design.

The Alviso chipset within Sonoma was supposed to launch this year, but fell victim to the numerous delays experienced by Intel this year. Alviso adds support for DDR2 memory and the PCI Express interconnect technology, which both debuted on the desktop earlier this year.

Yonah is the code name for Intel's first dual-core mobile processor, initially revealed by sources earlier this year and confirmed by Otellini in September. Yonah will be built on the company's 65-nanometer process technology and paired with the Calistoga chipset on the Napa platform.


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