IDF Spring 2005: Report from San Francisco

The Silent Front
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There was additional information about 65nm core Presler (dual-core) and Cedar Mill (single-core) desktop processors, due to arrive in the first half of 2006. The really interesting item for PC silencers was the Yonah, a 65nm dual-core mobile processor, and its supporting chipset, Calistoga. Given the low power dissipation and high computing power of the current Pentium M Dothan cores, the Yonah could turn out to be quite a product for silent computing. A running test sample of the Yonah on a reference desktop board was on display in the Multi-core Zone.

Mobile dual-core: The demo looks like something you'd see being tested in our own lab.

Mobile dual-core: A completely non-standard HSF which felt cool to the touch as the system was running benchmarks.


Yonah brings up a question that's been on many people's lips: What is Intel's official position on Pentium M for the desktop? It is a relevant question now that AOpen, DFI and Soltek are all making MicroATX desktop boards based on the 855 chipset for the Pentium M, and AOpen is making a P-M / 855 SFF barebones PC as well.

The official answer may be that there is no official position at this time. The P-M and P4 processors were developed by independent teams, and there has been natural competition between them. The mobile processor team is delighted with the development of desktop platforms for the P-M. They don't really care where the Pentium M or 855 chipset is being sold, increased sales are good for the team. The desktop guys, on the other hand, are somewhat less positive, feeling the expansion of P-M into the desktop space as a potential threat to official desktop platform sales. This was the opinion expressed by some some individuals from both divisions at Intel.

Vivian Lien, Marking & PR Director for DFI's San Jose operation, asked, "When our development team runs into issues with a desktop board using a chipset for the P-M, who should they turn to at Intel for support, the desktop or the mobile group?" This is a somewhat tricky issue that AOpen can resolve more easily because they also develop notebook PCs, and thus have had direct access to tech support and documents from Intel's mobile processor division.

All of these issues may soon be in the past. A January 17, 2005 Intel press release states,

"A broad reorganization bringing all major product groups in line with the company’s strategy to drive development of complete technology platforms based on Intel ingredients... The platform-based organizations also reflect the ongoing convergence of computing and communications by incorporating both capabilities across the new groups."

The five groups are Mobility, Digital Enterprise, Digital Home, Digital Health and Channel Products. Although the desktop and mobile CPU development teams may remain separate, technologies developed by either may be integrated in projects by the Digital Home group, for example. As Barbara Grimes, the PR manager of the Mobile Group. pointed out, the Pentium M is already being implemented in products showcased at IDF by the Digital Home group. Customer demand drives product development, and as demand for P-M in the desktop space increases, so will Intel's support and expansion of the P-M's role. P-M on the desktop remains very much a niche market at this time.

Concept Intel P-M Desktop system at IDF.

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