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What to expect from desktop and mobile processors in 2010

We look at what's on the cards for CPUs this year

From mighty six-core desktop chips to miniscule smartbook processors, here's a look at what's on the cards for CPUs this year.

Full-size laptop CPUs

AMD will continue to trail Intel on the mobile CPU front in 2010; in fact, the company has just two new mobile processors on its public road map for this year.

AMD's first quadcore mobile CPU, code-named Champlain, will have 2MB of cache (512MB for each core) and support for DDR3 memory. AMD also plans to offer Champlain in dual-core trim.

According to AMD's road map, Champlain will be the foundation for its Danube platform for mainstream desktop replacement and thin-and-light laptops.

Danube will feature DirectX 10.1 integrated graphics with an option for a DirectX 11 discrete graphics processor.

AMD's second new mobile offering, code-named Geneva, will be a dual-core processor with 2MB of cache and DDR3 memory support.

Geneva will form the basis of AMD's Nile platform for ultrathin notebooks and will feature DirectX 10.1 integrated graphics, with optional support for a DirectX 11 discrete GPU.

AMD hasn't released any additional details about Champlain and Geneva since briefing analysts on the new chips in November.

Intel's 2010 mobile CPU offerings include the products announced immediately prior to CES: five new Core i7 chips, four new Core i5 models and two new Core i3 offerings.

Intel will continue to use its older 45nm manufacturing process to build its high-end Core i7 mobile quadcore CPUs, but the new Core i3 and Core i5 dual-core chips (previously code-named Arrandale) will all use the 32nm Westmere process.

These chips will have a graphics processor integrated in the same package as the CPU.

Each of the new chips features Intel's Turbo Boost technology (a feature inherent in the Nehalem microarchitecture), which enables them to dynamically vary their core operating frequency based on demand as long as they're running below their power, current and temperature limits.

The Core i3 and Core i5 processors can dynamically vary the frequency of their integrated graphics cores in a similar fashion.

What's more, the new mobile processors can dynamically trade thermal budgets between the CPU core and the graphics core (a feature not supported on their desktop counterparts).

If the computer is running a CPU-intensive application, for example, the processor will dial back the GPU to let the CPU run faster and hotter; likewise, if the computer is running a graphics-intensive application, the processor will dial back the CPU to give the GPU more thermal headroom.

Intel's new mobile processors will use the same graphics core as their desktop counterparts, so they'll offer all the same features, including support for DVI, dual simultaneous HDMI 1.3a, and DisplayPort interfaces, Blu-ray video decoding, and Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio soundtracks.

NEXT PAGE: Netbook CPUs

  1. We look at what's on the cards for CPUs this year
  2. Desktop processors
  3. Low-power desktop CPUs
  4. Full-size laptop CPUs
  5. Netbook CPUs
  6. Looking further out

See all: Processor reviews


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