Intel Readies 32-nm Chip Launch at CES

Intel is prepping for the official release of its 32-nm "Westmere" Core processors for desktops and laptops Jan. 7 at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Intel in December talked about these "Clarksdale" and "Arrandale" CPUs, but more information, including frequency and pricing, are making its way onto the Internet.

With the Consumer Electronics Show getting underway Jan. 7 in Las Vegas, Intel is readying the release of almost 20 32-nanometer Westmere processors for both desktops and laptops.

Officials with the giant chip maker gave analysts and journalists a preview of some of the Core i3, i5 and i7 chips that will offer such features as integrated memory controllers, a 45-nm graphics chip integrated with the CPU, Turbo Boost for increasing the speed of individual processing cores, and Hyper Threading to improve system performance.

A new Turbo Boost application will show how the technology is working as users run applications, and the dual-core chips will offer greater high-definition capabilities.

They said the official announcement for the new processors-"Clarksdale" for desktops and "Arrandale" for laptops-will be made early Jan. 7, hours before CEO Paul Otellini delivers his keynote speech at the show.

However, some new information is making its way onto the Internet. Intel reportedly will launch seven Clarksdale chips, ranging in price from $87 to $284 per 1,000 units, and with speeds of between 2.80GHz and 3.46GHz. The 11 Arrandale CPUs, with pricing up to $332 per 1,000 units, will run at speeds of 2.13GHz and 2.66GHz

The improved graphics-including the on-die integrated graphics chips-is important as consumers continue to expand the amount of multimedia work they do on their systems, from game playing to photo editing to music editing, according to Intel officials.

Intel had been planning to launch its "Larrabee" GPU early this year, but announced in December that it was shelving the first generation of the graphics chips due to development problems.

That has given rivals Advanced Micro Devices and Nvidia some breathing room to accelerate the adoption of their GPU technologies while Intel continues to work on its offerings.

While graphics capabilities are important to consumers, they're also growing in importance to organizations, particularly those in such fields as HPC (high-performance computing). Both AMD and Nvidia have aggressively promoted the use of GPUs for mainstream computing workloads.

And Intel officials expect that while consumers will continue driving the PC market, 2010 will see the beginning of a recovery for the business PC space, driven in part by Microsoft's release in October of its Windows 7 operating system.

Intel already is shipping the Arrandale and Clarksdale chips, which are expected to appear in systems early this year. Officials with the chip maker said the company has invested more than $7 billion in the United States on four fabs being used to build the 32-nm processors.