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Intel to detail new chips at conference

The new multicore processors are expected to emerge in 2006 and, sources say, will sport greater energy efficiency and manageability.

Intel plans to provide details on a new generation of multicore processors at its semiannual developer conference in two weeks--and in the process highlight how its chip families are coming back together.

The new chips will start to emerge in the second half of 2006 and sport, among other attributes, greater energy efficiency and better manageability, according to sources familiar with the company's plans. The chips are code-named Merom (for notebooks), Conroe (for desktops) and Woodcrest (for servers).

Intel CEO Paul Otellini plans to provide details about the new generation of chips on Aug. 23, the first day of the Intel Developer Forum, which will take place in San Francisco.

The design of these upcoming processors is largely derived from the Pentium M notebook line of chips. For the past few years, Intel has produced chips based on two separate architectures. Current Pentium 4 desktop chips and Xeon server chips come from the NetBurst architecture.

The power consumption of the NetBurst chips, however, has created problems for PC makers and limited performance gains. Intel had to cancel a 4GHz Pentium 4 in part because of excessive power consumption and consequent heat dissipation.

Although the various Merom and Conroe chips will differ by cache size and other attributes, the fact that they will share similar architectures will likely help streamline some engineering issues for Intel. It will also likely be seen as a victory for globalization--the Pentium M came out of Intel's Israel facilities; NetBurst emerged from the U.S.

As at the last Intel Developer Forum in March, the dual-core and multicore concept will be tough to escape at the upcoming three-day event. The company plans to provide updates on dual-core chips, code-named Yonah, Presler and Cedar Mill, that will come out in the first half of 2006. Although these chips precede the Merom generation convergence, they will also be made on the 65-nanometer manufacturing process, which will begin later this year.

The general managers of Intel's different divisions will also provide updates. Sean Maloney, who runs the Mobility Group, plans to discuss WiMax and Intel's plan to get cell phones and notebooks to interoperate better.

Similarly, Pat Gelsinger (Digital Enterprise) Lou Burns (Digital Health) and Don MacDonald (Digital Home) will flesh out the news in their respective worlds.

Rival Advanced Micro Devices, meanwhile, will likely be holding briefings on the same week at nearby hotels.