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Intel shows off mobile quad-core chip, new cooling technology

Presenting at the start of its developer forum in Taiwan on Monday, Intel Corp. demonstrated a working quad-core microprocessor design that will eventually find its way into notebook systems, as well as a new strategy for cooling notebooks derived from compressor technology.

The quad-core mobile chip is still in the early stages of development, said Intel's mobile platforms chief Mooly Eden, who acknowledged that the silicon used in his demos had only left the fab just 72 hours earlier. Neverthless, and despite the need for a significant cooling system, it continually ran sequences from the recently released Enemy Territory: Quake Wars game during his presentation without a hitch.

Eden said the Penryn-based chip, due sometime in the second half of 2008 as part of Intel's Montevina platform, contains 840 million transistors and will run at a power envelope of 45W. That's somewhat higher than the chipmaker's mainstream thermal design power (TDP) of 35W, meaning that the extra performance will take its toll on battery life.

Also during his presentation, Eden spoke at some length about a new strategy for cooling notebooks based on compressor technology similar to that used in refrigerators and air conditioners. He showed off a compressor cylinder about 2cm in diameter and 10cm long, as well as a notebook stand and cooling system containing three of the compressors which he claimed could reduce notebook chassis temperatures by around 10-degrees Celsius. He also demonstrated how the compressors can be incorporated directly into notebook's heatsink and fan assembly.

As a final order of business, the Intel exec disclosed details of a new material under development by his Santa Clara-based firm designed to be permeable to air but also act as a barrier to liquids. The idea is to allow notebook makers to design systems where air for cooling is taken in through keyboard rather than from vents on the underside or rear (which is common in today's designs), yet still offer protection from accidental spillages.

Such a design has several advantages, particularly in giving designers more flexibility in terms of the layout of the motherboard and components, Eden explained. It should also improve cooling as the keyboard offers a larger surface area for air intake and is less likely to become blocked or covered.

Intel is still refining its new compressor technology and waterproof material, both of which are unlikely to be available for production systems for another year or so.