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Monday, January 07, 2008, 09:50 am PT (12:50 pm ET)

Intel unveils 45nm chips bound for next-gen Mac systems

Exhibiting at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) this week, Intel Corp formally unveiled 16 new microprocessors based on the company's 45-nanometer (nm) manufacturing process, several of which are expected to turn up in products from Apple Inc. over the next several months.

Among the 16 new chips, 12 are designed for new notebook and desktops systems and four are reserved for servers or high-end workstations. All of the chips are lead-free and include the company's new transistor formula and 45nm manufacturing process that boosts speeds, reduces power requirements, saves on battery life, all while yielding smaller packages for more fashionable and compact computer designs.

With the introduction of the new processors, Intel said its 2008 product portfolio now offers 32 desktop, notebook and server chips based on the aforementioned innovations. The company also highlighted how it will take advantage of its transistor and manufacturing advances a bit later in the year to spur a category of small form-factor, low-powered, high-performance devices that deliver broadband Internet access "in your pocket."

"The new products we're announcing today provide consumers and businesses with the benefit of sleeker and higher-performing laptops and more powerful and fashionable PCs that deliver for the most hard-core gamer, high-definition enthusiast and just about every other consumer demand," said Intel's vice president of mobile platforms, Mooly Eden. "And later this year, Intel will begin delivering the mobile Internet with much smaller, lighter and powerful Internet-enabled devices that ultimately will fit right into your pocket."

Notebook chips (MacBooks, MacBook Pros)

Among the chips introduced Monday are five new notebook processors, which AppleInsider has detailed on previous occasions. These include four Core 2 Duo chips ranging from 2.1GHz to 2.6GHz and a Core 2 Extreme model at 2.8GHz. All are said to enable breakthrough performance and improved battery life, providing consumers with the ability to be more productive or just enjoy their digital entertainment while on the go.

More specifically, entry level 2.1GHz and 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo models will include 3MB of Level 2 cache and wholesale in lots of 1,000 for $209 and $241, respectively. Higher performance versions at 2.5GHz and 2.6GHz will each pack 6MB of Level 2 cache and sell for $316 and $530.

Each of the aforementioned Core 2 Duo models will sport a thermal design power (TDP) of 35 watts, while the 2.8GHz Core 2 Extreme ($851), also with 6MB of Level 2 cache, will feature a TDP of 44 watts.

MacBook Pro-bound Penryn chips

MacBook Pro- and iMac-bound Intel Core 2 Duo Mobile Penryn specs and prices


Apple is expected to adopt one of the Core 2 Duo Penryn chips for its upcoming sub-notebook, while using the remainder of the chip family to boost the specs of its MacBook Pro notebooks around the same time, and its iMac desktop family shortly thereafter.

The chips include support for an Intel Core microarchitecture design feature called Deep Power Down Technology that was designed to extend battery life of notebook systems by reducing the power of the processor when it's not running data or instructions The chips will also deliver improved content and video capabilities with HD DVD and Blu-Ray support when implemented with an optional third-party decoder.

iMac compare

Current 65nm Merom-based iMac retail configs compared to potential 45nm Penryn-based retail configs


MacBook Pro compare

Current 65nm Merom-based MacBook Pro retail configs compared to potential 45nm Penryn-based retail configs


Additionally, Intel has added new video and graphics capabilities with Intel HD Boost that includes Intel Streaming SIMD Extensions 4 (SSE4) for speeding up workloads including video encoding for high-definition and photo manipulation.

Ultra-mobile PC (UMPC) platform (Newton successor, next-gen iPhone?)

Meanwhile, the world's largest chipmaker reiterated plans to ship in the first half of this year its first-generation low-power platform, codenamed "Menlow," that will help deliver a range of ultra mobile and mobile Internet devices.

The Menlow platform is comprised of the "Silverthorne" processor and the "Poulsbo" chipset, the former of which is expected to turn up in a handful of devices from Apple Inc. a bit later in the year.

Desktop chips (Not adopted by Apple)

Building on its November 2007 introduction of the Core2 Extreme quad-core processor (QX9650), Intel on Monday also announced three quad core and four dual core 45nm-based processors for mainstream desktop PCs which should begin making their way to market later this month and throughout the first quarter of the year.

The new Core 2 Quad and Core 2 Duo processor are members of desktop-class Intel chip families which Apple has not used in the past, but promise to speed processor transitions and multicore adoption for other PC manufacturers. Intel said dual core desktop processor-based PCs using these new processors will begin shipping this month, while quad core-based systems are slated to arrive later in the quarter.

Server chips (Mac Pro, Xserve)

Rounding out the chipmaker's processor announcements at CES are four Xeon processors for servers and workstations that are expected to ship this quarter. These include models that will eventually make their way into impending Mac Pro and Xserve refreshes, including an updated 8-core Mac Pro based on two 3.2Ghz Harpertown Xeons.