Intel quad-core mobile chip coming: Is it overkill?

Intel is slated to roll out it first quad-core mobile processor in August.

Is four processing cores inside a laptop overkill? Probably not for gamers. Intel is expected to meet this insatiable need for speed when it rolls out it first mobile quad-core processor.

An Intel executive is on the record stating an August roll-out.

And this may happen sooner in August than later. System vendors may go public with information about the quad-core mobile processor as soon as August 11, according to sources. This is when other processors, such as the Core 2 Quad Q9650 (3GHz), are expected to go public.

Falcon Northwest already uses quad-core processors in its laptops
Falcon Northwest already uses quad-core processors in its laptops. Falcon Northwest

Many of the details of the quad-core mobile processor are public already. At the roll-out for Centrino 2 , Mooly Eden, an Intel senior vice president, said the quad-core mobile chip will have 800 million transistors and a 45-watt power envelope--10 watts higher than the 35-watt Intel mobile processors used today. "You'll see gaming machines and (mobile) workstations with more compute power than servers two years ago," Eden said.

The quad-core QX9300 chip will be part of the Intel Extreme series of mobile processors. HP's high-end Pavilion HDX gaming laptop line and Dell's Alienware unit both offer laptops with Intel Extreme mobile processors such as the X9000.

Last week, Intel announced the Intel Core 2 Extreme X9100, a dual-core mobile processor running at 3.06GHz.

So, is a quad-core mobile processor overkill? "Definitely not for our customers," said Kelt Reeves, president of enthusiast PC maker Falcon Northwest. "We've been putting quad-processors in (laptops) for a long time."

To date, Falcon Northwest has used desktop quad-core processors and currently uses a Q9550 quad-core chip, which has a 95-watt thermal envelope--unsuitable for a standard-size laptop. But Falcon Northwest quad-core laptops are typically "big power-hungry beasts that weigh twelve pounds," Reeves said. The upcoming mobile quad-core has half the power envelope of the Q9550.

About the author

Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.


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