Intel Diamondville shuns dual-core

Notebook processor will part ways with Intel's multicore-centric strategy of the last few years.

Intel's upcoming low-cost Diamondville notebook processor will break from Intel's multicore strategy of the last few years and be primarily a single-core processor.

Small notebooks like the Eee PC will use Diamondville
Small notebooks like the Eee PC will use Diamondville. Asus

In this respect Diamondville is not that different from Celeron, a long-standing design (introduced in 1998) that has been exclusively single-core until very recently. The reason for the single-core strategy is simple: With Diamondville, Intel has a "fanatical focus" on low power and low cost, according to Dean McCarron, founder and principal of Mercury Research. A single core means fewer transistors and lower power consumption.

Diamondville is not Celeron, however. "It's a clean sheet of paper design," McCarron said. It is a tiny 45-nanometer processor that employs a simpler design (called an "in-order pipeline") than standard Intel processors, as spelled out in an ISSCC presentation (PDF) earlier this month. Diamondville also has lower-cost packaging than the Silverthorne processor, which Diamondville is derived from.

Because of this extreme emphasis on cost, Diamondville will appear in ultra-low-cost notebooks and to a lesser extent--at least initially--in desktops. Intel refers to the low-cost notebook design as "netbook" and estimates the pricing for these devices will go as low as $250. The initial thrust by PC suppliers such as Hewlett-Packard and Dell is expected to be in emerging markets. Performance is expected to be commensurate with the Pentium-M processor (a single-core chip first released in 2004).

There will be one exception to the single-core designs: a desktop version of Diamondville will be dual-core, according to a source close to Intel. This is backed up by a recent report in Taipei-based DigiTimes that refers to a Diamondville platform as "Shelton'08." That platform will come with two Diamondville processor models: a dual-core CPU, whose specifics are currently unknown, and the 230, a single-core CPU running at 1.6GHz with a 533MHz front-side bus and 512KB cache. The Shelton'08 for notebooks will include a single-core Diamondville, the N270.

On another front, Intel is expected to rebrand the Menlow platform in the very near future, according to sources familiar with Intel's strategy. The Menlow platform is comprised of the "Silverthorne" processor and the "Poulsbo" chipset from which Diamondville is derived, as mentioned above. Centrino is a possible candidate for a part of the brand name. This is a name that carries significant brand equity and may also be applied to the upcoming Montevina platform as "Centrino 2," according to reports earlier this month.

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