Intel Cuts the Power

Updated: The chip maker will, in 2006, introduce a new chip architecture it says will drop the energy consumption of desktops, notebooks and servers by some 30 watts.

SAN FRANCISCO—Intel Corp. is powering down its entire processor line.

The chip maker, as previously reported, aims to drive down the power consumption of desktops, notebooks and servers that use its processors significantly over the next several years by enacting a redesign of its chips architecture or underlying circuitry, Paul Otellini, its CEO, said during a keynote that kicked off the companys three-day fall Intel Developer Forum on Tuesday here.

Intels new chip architecture, which will debut in 2006, focuses on delivering multicore processors that offer higher performance per clock cycle than Intels current chips, but at the same time consume less power. As expected, the new architecture will aim to take the best of Intels current Pentium M chip and add features from its Pentium 4 and Xeon lines, such as 64-bit addressing.

The new architecture represents a major shift for the company, whose desktop and server chips have, until this year, focused on achieving high clock speeds in single-core configurations. High-speed, single-core chips, however, pay the price of consuming relatively large amounts of power, making them harder to cool in servers, for example.

/zimages/3/28571.gifAs Intel and AMD begin making multicore moves, eWEEK Labs takes a close look at the technology. Click here to read what they think of multicore processing.

Thus, "were changing our engineering focus from clock speed to multicore processors. Multicore allows us to continue performance without the penalties we saw [with the] gigahertz approach," Otellini said.

Going forward, "we will create and build products and platforms that deliver new levels of performance and energy efficiency and have communications technology built into them," he said.

Reducing power consumption will make for sleeker desktops and thinner, lighter notebooks that offer longer battery life, as well as, in a nod to business, help cut down consumption of electricity for firms that operate large numbers of computer servers, Otellini said.

Intel will get started with dual-core processors based on the new architecture.

The chips, due in the second half of 2006, are code-named Merom, Conroe and Woodcrest.

Designed for notebooks, desktops and servers, respectively, the chips will consume up to about 5 watts, 65 watts and 80 watts, thus helping to reduce the amount of power notebooks, desktops and servers each use, he said.

Intel will follow Woodcrest with a chip called Whitefield. Whitefield, due in 2007, will incorporate four processor cores.

Silicon from at least some of the chips is already working. Otellini ran his keynote on a Merom-based notebook, he said.

Collectively, Merom, Conroe and Woodcrest will lower power consumption of their respective platforms by about 30 watts each, Otellini said. At the same time, they will offer performance-per-watt increases of three times, five times and three times over their respective predecessors.

Next Page: Other benefits of power-efficient chips.