Three new mobile quads outed

IDF 2009: Optical peripheral ports too

INTEL’S TRADITIONAL KEYNOTE for day 2 of IDF is mobility, and that didn’t change this year. Most of the interesting news had been outed by the time Dadi Perlmutter and Mooly Eden got to them, but there were some new details in the mix.

First off, there are three new mobile CPUs, the chips formerly known as Clarksfield. They are now the Core i7 Exxxxxxxxxtreme 920XM, i7 820QM and i7 720QM. The latter two are not Exxxxxxxxxtreme though. As far as raw specs go, the 920 runs at 2GHz, 820 at 1.73GHz, and the 720 pokes along at a mere 1.6GHz. All have 4 cores with 8 threads, and while the 920 and 820 have 8MB of cache, the 720 has only 6MB.

Intel now has ‘turbo’ modes on laptops, something that is much more useful in mobile devices than desktops. It allows speed to climb along with the commensurate power use for very short time frames, basically only as long as needed, but no more. In the mobile environment, that is a very good thing, it directly translates to much longer battery life.

The Exxxxxxxxxtreme 920 starts at 2.0GHz, but can climb as high as 3.2GHz if thermals allow. With two loaded cores, the 920 can go up 8 speed bins, not bad at all. With a single threaded app, basically one loaded core, the 920 can hit 9 bins. Lower down the stack, the 820 will go up to 3.06GHz, and the 720 will hit 2.8GHz.

That is the good side, the bad is of course the thrice damned naming scheme. You have the Processor type, IE Core/Pentium/Celeron, the letter i and a number 3/5/7, followed by another number. Intel now seems to how have added a two letter suffix, in this case, XM or QM, with likely others to follow. To make matters worse, the three digit numbers, 920, 820, and 720 do not indicate levels like they do with Lynnfield – t(e numbers indicate, well, nothing. Why? Really, why? HINT: AMD doesn’t have this proble-. It is simplifying its branding, and that is a good thing.

Moving on to the GPU on package parts, Arrandale and Clarkdale. Those are now officially due in Q1 2010, but that is an open secret. Not having an integrated laptop chip for another two quarters is going to make some OEMs quite annoyed.

40M Light Peak cable playing video

The second big bang was a new technology called Light Peak, a new high speed optical cable type. Intel has long been banging the drum on optical links, and now it is going to productize it. Light Peak is a 10G optical link that can use cables up to 100M.

It is multi-protocol so a few auto-configuring Light Peak cables can replace several other cable types, or you could put a few on the back of a laptop and replace multiple other single use ports. The idea here is to make laptops smaller, thinner and lighter. I wonder which unnamed fruity company will be the first to adopt this?S|A

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Charlie Demerjian

Roving engine of chaos and snide remarks at SemiAccurate
Charlie Demerjian is the founder of Stone Arch Networking Services and is a technology news site; addressing hardware design, software selection, customization, securing and maintenance, with over one million views per month. He is a technologist and analyst specializing in semiconductors, system and network architecture. As head writer of, he regularly advises writers, analysts, and industry executives on technical matters and long lead industry trends. Charlie is also a council member with Gerson Lehman Group.