Intel Unveils New Processors

by , 8:25 AM EST, March 8th, 2006

Intel took the lid off several new computer processors on Tuesday, and some of those may end up in new Macs. The chip most likely to land in Apple's pro desktop line is a dual-core processor code-named "Conroe," which touts a 40 percent reduction in energy usage while gaining a 40 percent increase in computing horse power. Conroe is scheduled to ship in volume some time in the third quarter of 2006.

Conroe will also be a part of Intel's new professional business platform that is code-named "Averill." The platform is an Intel-branded package that includes the CPU plus several other chips tailored to the needs of pro-level users. The bundled technologies include a new chip-set called "Broadwater," Intel's second generation version of Active Management Technology, and Intel Virtualization Technology.

Pat Gelsinger, Intel's senior vice president and general manager of the Digital Enterprise Group, stated that Averill will deliver world-class IT security and management capabilities.

Yesterday, Apple announced that the annual World Wide Developers Conference will start on August 7, which is several weeks later than it is usually held, leading to speculation that the successor to the PowerMac G5 may be announced at the event. If true, Apple will likely show off new Macs based on the Averill chip-set.

A quad-core chip code-named "Kentsfield" is also in the works, and should be available some time in early 2007. Intel did not elaborate on the Kentsfield specifications.

Intel also announced a new Xeon-based processor called "Dempsey" that should be shipping by the end of March. Dempsey is based on Intel's Bensley platform. Along with Dempsey, the chip maker also announced an ultra-low power processor intended for server blades, storage devices, and telecommunications equipment. The chip, code-named "Sossaman," ships the week of March 13.

Another server processor based on the Bensley platform, code-named "Woodcrest," will be shipping in the third quarter of 2006. Woodcrest will reduce power consumption by about 35 percent while increasing performance 80 percent.

Finally, "Clovertown" was announced. This quad-core server processor will ship in early 2007, and is socket-compatible with the Bensley platform, meaning that servers may be upgradable from dual-core to quad-core chips. Clovertown's enhanced processing capabilities will make it a good choice for multi-threaded applications like large database management and financial service processing.

Intel's laundry list of new products is good news for Mac users. The new chip line up gives Apple a nice selection of processors to choose from as it transitions the rest of its pro-level Macs away from the G5 PowerPC processor.

Justin Rattner, Intel Senior Fellow and chief technology officer, commented "We expect to deliver industry leading performance and capabilities per watt. People will see systems that can be faster, smaller and quieter with longer battery life and lower electric bills."