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Tuesday, May 12, 2009, 06:50 am PT (09:50 am ET)

Intel to launch Calpella with quad-core notebook chips in Q3

Intel still plans to launch its next-generation Calpella notebook platform, expected to find its way into Apple's MacBook lines, sometime in the the third quarter of this year, according to a new report.

Citing its usual "sources at notebook makers," DigiTimes claims the chipmaker recently outlined its notebook plans for the remainder of the year to its partners. The plans were broken down by the nicknames Intel has given to its various mobile platforms and theretail price segments they're expected to target.

Of interest to Apple followers is Calpella, Intel's Nehalem-based, sixth-generation Centrino platform for mainstream performance notebook PCs and the successor to the Montevina platform found, in part, in the current line of MacBooks and MacBook Pros. It will reportedly target 14-, 15-, 17-, and 18-inch notebooks that will retail for prices above $1,200.

There had been rumors that Intel would be forced to delay Calpella until late October at the earliest so that its manufacturing partners could clear inventories of existing chips that have piled up due to the poor economy. However, Tuesday's report claims the Santa Clara-based firm remains committed to a third-quarter launch, which would see the platform come to market in some capacity by the end of September.

While Intel hasn't gone on record to talk about Calpella's family of microprocessors, rumors suggest the platform will initially launch with three 45-nanometer quad-core "Clarksfield" chips: a 1.6GHz Core 2 Quad P1, a 1.73GHz Core 2 Quad P2, and a 2.0GHz Core 2 Extreme XE. The chips are expected to retail in lots of 1000 for $364, $546, and $1,054, respectively. Each is expected to sport an 8MB Level 3 cache except the 1.6GHz model, which will reportedly have a 6MB Level 3 cache.

Based on what Apple is believed to pay Intel for chips in its current MacBook Pros, the Mac maker would be most likely to adopt the 1.6GHz and 1.73GHz variants for its professional notebook line if it were to use any of the quad-core chips. Intel will follow up the release of Clarksfield with "Arrandale" 32-nm dual-core chips sometime in the first half of 2010, which will sport higher clock speeds and could play to the 13-inch MacBook line. Arrandale chips could also be used in the MacBook Pro line if Apple forgoes adoption of the first round of quad-core Clarksfield chips.

Clarksfield

Intel's rumored initial Clarksfield lineup of quad-core mobile chips under the Calpella platform.


Current MBP Chips

Here's what Apple paid (estimated) for its MacBook Pro chips prior to swapping out the 2.53GHz chip with a 2.66GHz chip.


Still, as AppleInsider noted in its report on the expected release of more affordable Macs, Apple should be afforded the option of tweaking its notebook lines as early as this spring if it so chooses. Arriving a few months ahead of Calpella and Clarksfield will be a refresh to Intel's current Montevina notebook platform that will introduce a T9900 3.06GHz chip and P8800 2.66GHz chip alongside price cuts to existing models.