Seeking to take some share of the spotlight at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, a number of microprocessor vendors offered the media and attendees a peek at forthcoming chip sets. Some vendors revealed more than others.
Intel Corp. CEO Craig Barrett on Thursday looked forward to the companys launch of its next-generation mobile “Sonoma” platform as well as a dual-core “Smithfield” design.
In his keynote address, Barrett disclosed that the companys dual-core “Smithfield” processor would not be a mainstream product until next year. Sources have indicated that the first Smithfield chips are due around the third quarter of 2005, most likely for high-end PCs. Barrett, who did not mention the processor by name, said that Intel “would see [dual-core] delivered in 05, with volume in 06.”
However, according to reports, Intels new Smithfield chip sets, code-named “Glenwood” and “Lakeport,” will bring new speed to the companys venerable Pentium family, supporting higher bus speeds and adding new storage support, including SATA 2 and Matrix RAID. The Smithfield processors are to be dual-core versions of the Pentium 4, and will support gigahertz-speed front-side buses.
Aside from keynote, Intel isnt saying much about the new chips, which have been discussed in reports from The Inquirer and other Web sites. However, the top-end speed of the new processors, which may not be called Pentium 4, will likely be lower in order to keep heat problems at bay.
Its also unclear whether the dual cores will be produced on the same silicon die or whether it will consist simply of two Pentium processors in one package. Intels new Smithfield processors are expected to support the 64-bit addressing plan used by the line of Xeon processors that Intel began shipping in 2004, allowing the processors to run either 32-bit or 64-bit instructions.
The new processors, which may be called the Pentium 5, could give Intel an edge over archrival AMD by bringing hyperthreading, dual-core, 64-bit-capable chips to the consumer desktop market.
Broadcom is also bringing a line of new products to the market, one of which is a new Wi-Fi VOIP phone using Broadcoms wireless technology chips, and the company is introducing a new network storage processor chip that allows a single-chip solution to NAS (network attached storage). The company says the chip will provide high-end storage features at a fraction of the cost of existing NAS.
Atheros Communications is announcing its new Smart Antenna chip set, designed to greatly speed wireless communications even if only one end has the smart antenna. The new chip set supports phased array antennas that can use as many as four separate radios to create a directional signal focused on a single endpoint, or multiple beams to multiple endpoints.
The phased array antennas support greatly improved performance between opposite ends of a wireless signal. Speeds up to 50 megabits per second can be obtained with the smart antenna chip sets on both sides.
The chip set is designed to be used in public hot spots and other multiuser applications. The smart antenna can greatly improve performance in environments with multiple endpoints. The chip set is available now in 802.11g and 802.11a/g versions.