The Road to Clovertown

By Nicole Freeman, Technology Editor

Starting with CES in January 2006, Intel has gone on the offensive, with a string of announcements culminating in the news of a quad-core processor code-named Clovertown. Intel CEO Paul Otellini was on hand in Las Vegas, NV, this January and, in his keynote address, spoke of Intel's commitment to power the next-generation of personal and home entertainment products. Following last spring's startling announcement that Intel® chips would power the new Macs and iPods, Otellini has pushed Intel to the fore with a $25 million marketing campaign he hopes will pay off in terms of increased market share and revenue.

Two is Better than One
In his CES 2006 keynote address, Intel CEO Paul Otellini officially unveiled his new microprocessor designed for mobile devices-the smokin' Intel® Core™ Duo processor.

Although Otellini didn't give away any upcoming Apple news-no doubt saving the punch for Macworld-he gave his audience some pretty impressive statistics. Intel expects to ship up to 1 million Intel Core Duo processors within the first three weeks of its introduction. Otellini also promises 100 times the performance of the first Intel® Pentium™ chips at a much smaller size.

The Intel® Centrino™ Duo notebook promises advances in performance on every vector: 68% faster, 28% less power use, and an extra hour of battery life. The Intel Centrino Duo is smaller than most notebooks shipping today, allowing for "on the go" digital entertainment. With 30 million Centrino notebooks shipped in 2005, Intel is looking to deliver twice as many products equipped with Intel Core Duo processors in 2006. iMac, anyone?

Intel Core Duo Processors also power the Intel® Viiv technology-based entertainment platform. By integrating components, Intel is looking to jump into the hot home-entertainment convergence market, which connects PC, television, music, and myriad services and devices both in the home and on the go. To support the platform, Intel is working with a wide variety of industry leaders worldwide to enable a broad choice of on-demand, Internet- delivered digital entertainment. In the future, the content can also be shared with Intel Viiv technology-verified digital devices around the home. PCs based on Intel Viiv technology are expected to be available in a variety of form factors from a number of PC manufacturers worldwide in the first quarter of 2006.

According to Otellini, Intel Core Duo Processors promise to "blur the differences today between the desktop, mobile, and consumer electronics devices."

Intel Bites the Apple
Just a few short days later, Otellini joined Apple CEO Steve Jobs at Macworld in San Francisco, CA, to unveil the new iMac and MacBook Pro. In Jobs' keynote address, he unveiled a host of new initiatives- and some satisfying economic news-before inviting Otellini on stage.

The big story of the day was the news that Intel chips now power the iMac and new MacBook Pro (which replaces the Powerbook). Although the collaboration was announced last June, new Intel® processor- powered iMacs started shipping in mid-January, with MacBook Pros following in February-bringing years of competition and contention to a decisive end.

It's no secret that Apple had a banner year on the revenue front. Apple reported revenues topping $5 billion in 2005's holiday- driven fourth quarter alone, 42 million iPods are out there entertaining the masses, and Apple's stock is on the rise.

Each Intel Core Duo processor in the new Mac products is faster than those in the G5, and two of them are in every iMac. The MacBook Pro has the same Intel Core Duo processor as the iMac in every model, making it four to five times faster than the PowerBook G5.

Let it Snow
What could possibly bring chip heavyweight Intel to the Sundance Film Festival? Intel, with weighty CES and Macworld announcements finished, breezed into Park City, UT, and set up its WiMAX-based digital entertainment zone.

Built in collaboration with Alvarion and Mountain Wireless, the network covered 55 miles, reaching an area from Salt Lake City to Park City. To showcase how the new Intel Core Duo processor powered the network, Intel streamed a live film premier to an audience at a remote ski lodge.

On hand at Intel's digital entertainment zone, set up in a local eatery, Intel's Raj Puran told festival goers just how-and when-they could bring the network into their very own homes.

After talking about the Intel Viiv platform, Intel Centrino Duo processor- powered dual-core laptops, and the dual-core desktop Intel® Pentium™ D processor as a platform, Puran switched to the consumer entertainment experience. Puran told listeners that a system powered by the new Intel Core Duo processor will elevate the consumer experience, with increased gaming performance levels, a simpler set-up experience, a multitude of media options, and enhanced integration between hardware and software to form a simple "one remote" entertainment arena.

Puran stated that Intel chipset breakthroughs would provide consumers with what Intel calls "the ten-foot experience" of watching movies and listening to music, using a remote rather than a mouse or keypad, letting users form their own entertainment environment "on their own terms."

Everyone wants to know: "How do we get this box into our living rooms?"

All Aboard for Clovertown
At a briefing in mid-February, CTO Justin Rattner introduced Intel® quad-core processor technology, which promises to improve the capabilities of computers to process multiple tasks at once. Intel demonstrated the new processor, code-named Clovertown, for the first time in San Francisco, CA, for a group of journalists.

Clovertown is a quad-core version of the dual-core Woodcrest processor and consists of two Woodcrest dies on a multi-chip module. Based on Intel's upcoming Merom and Conroe cores, it uses a new microarchitecture, not based on either the existing Intel® Pentium™ 4 or Intel Pentium M processors. Woodcrest uses 1333 MT/s (333MHz quad-pumped) FSB and has 4MB of shared L2 cache. It ranges between 1.6GHz and 3.0GHz, whereas Clovertown's clock speeds will probably be a step or two down.

Clovertown technology is not expected to be available until 2007. The first machines to incorporate Intel's quad-core technology will be servers, but microprocessors with the technology are eventually expected to power personal computers. Intel says the era of seeking faster chips has given way to developing computer hardware that can perform more functions. Consequently, quad-core microprocessing is just but one step on the path toward chips with even more processors.

Rattner talked about multi-core as being the new standard in computing and energy-efficient performance. "We're looking at developing multi-core chips that follow Moore's Law the way Intel Pentium processors did," says Rattner. "As we moved our focus toward energy efficiency, we found we couldn't achieve the desired efficiency without moving to multi-core."

Intel says the roadmap for its multi-core strategy includes all areas of computing, such as scientific and multimedia applications for enterprise and consumer uses.