This week in Intel

Analysts, execs and industry insiders descended on the Intel Developer Forum, eager to see what the chipmaker has to offer next.

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Steven Musil is the night news editor at CNET News. He's been hooked on tech since learning BASIC in the late '70s. When not cleaning up after his daughter and son, Steven can be found pedaling around the San Francisco Bay Area. Before joining CNET in 2000, Steven spent 10 years at various Bay Area newspapers.
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Steven Musil
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Analysts, executives and industry insiders met in San Francisco at the three-day Intel Developer Forum, eager to see what the chipmaker has to offer next.

During the conference, Intel gave a name to the next-generation chip innards, on which it's basing its counterattack against Advanced Micro Devices: the Intel Core microarchitecture. Derived from the design of the Pentium M processor, the architecture puts major emphasis on lowering power consumption and the older priority of boosting performance.

IDF spring 2006

Core microarchitecture is designed to deal with two related pains in computing--excessive power consumption and resulting waste heat. Improving performance per watt gives Intel a new sales pitch at a time that it faces financial troubles and market share losses to rival AMD.

Intel also demonstrated two quad-core processors, "Clovertown" for servers and "Kentsfield" for PCs, directing attention toward the future and away from a more troubled present. Both chips are built using Intel's 65-nanometer manufacturing process and will ship in the first quarter of 2007, Intel representatives said.

One factor could affect the popularity of chips with four cores, however. Although servers often run software whose tasks are divided into multiple threads that can take advantage of multicore processors, PC software is not so amenable to the approach.

Meanwhile, Intel introduced a new generation of its Centrino notebook technology. Santa Rosa--due in the first half of 2007--is the code name for the next iteration of Centrino, which combines a mobile processor, chipset and wireless chip. Santa Rosa will accommodate the Merom processor that's expected to launch later this year, but will feature a new chipset called Crestline that's designed to improve graphics performance.

Kedron, the new wireless chip in Santa Rosa, will support the 802.11n standard expected to be ratified early next year. But Wi-Fi networks such as 802.11n are only one part of Intel's wireless vision. The company continues to push WiMax technology as a future wide-area-network standard that could deliver data signals at broadband speeds over areas the size of cities.