Intel to further combine CPU, GPU components, support Blu-Ray 3D playback in future notebook chips

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Date: Friday, August 27th, 2010, 06:47
Category: News, Processors

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It’s hard to say when this might find its way into an Apple notebook, but it could be amazing when it does.

Processor giant Intel announced that its next-generation laptop chips will have a dozen new features to improve graphics performance and will be able to play Blu-ray 3D movies, the company said on Thursday.

Laptops with processors based on the Sandy Bridge architecture will play Blu-ray 3D movies while preserving battery life, said Nick Knupffer, an Intel spokesman. Users won’t need to buy a separate graphics processor to specifically view 3D content.

Sandy Bridge chips are due to go into production later this year, Knupffer said. Company officials have said that PCs with the new chips could hit store shelves in the first half of next year.

Per Macworld, the company is expected to shed more light on Sandy Bridge’s graphics performance at the upcoming Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco from September 13th through the 15th.

Intel for the first time will integrate the CPU and graphics processor on a single chip, said Nathan Brookwood, principal analyst at Insight 64. The current generation of chips based on the Westmere architecture have the CPU and graphics core on one piece of silicon, but as separate units.

The higher levels of integration will also help Intel include additional transistors to improve graphics performance, Brookwood said. The Sandy Bridge CPUs and GPUs will be made using the 32-nanometer process, while with current chips, the CPU and GPU are made using the 32-nm process and the 45-nm process, respectively.

Graphics performance typically doubles from one chip generation to the next, said Dean McCarron, principal analyst at Mercury Research.

Intel’s current laptop chips are capable of 1080p video, and improvements in Sandy Bridge chips could bring a noticeable graphics improvement to PCs, McCarron said.

Now it remains to be seen what Apple has to say about Blu-Ray support and how this might be integrated into future generations of Apple laptops…

Apple purchased of chip maker Intrinsity confirmed

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Date: Wednesday, April 28th, 2010, 03:32
Category: News, Processors

Late Tuesday, the New York Times confirmed a rumor that Apple had purchased Intrinsity, a privately owned ARM chip design firm.

Citing “people familiar with the deal,” the report also included an estimated US$121 million purchase price, provided by Tom R. Halfill, an analyst with Microprocessor Report.

Apple spokesman Steve Dowling indirectly confirmed the purchase, stating that the the hardware maker “buys smaller technology companies from time to time.” However, he added that Apple does not reveal “purpose or plans” with any acquisition.

Sources close to the story also confirmed to the Times that Intrinsity helped to design the custom A4 processor found in the recently released iPad. Weeks ago, one analyst suggested that only Intrinsity could have delivered the A4 processor with its snappy 1GHz clock speed. The Cortex-A8 reference design on which the A4 is based can only be clocked up to 650MHz.

In early April, rumors first surfaced that Apple purchased Intrinsity to help build the A4 chip. Evidence to support the acquisition surfaced when a number of Intrinsity employees changed their company status on LinkedIn to Apple on the first of the month.

The purchase follows similar acquisitions and in 2008, Apple also bought fabless chip designer P.A. Semi for US$278 million in 2008.

Apple also bought a 3% stake in 2008 in Imagination Technologies, maker of the PowerVR mobile graphics chip found in the company’s mobile devices, including the iPhone. Last year, Apple bumped its share to 9.5%. In addition to partnering with Apple, Imagination also competes with ARM Holdings, which makes the reference designs for chips that power the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad.

Rumor: Intel may be short on next-gen MacBook, MacBook Pro processors

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Date: Monday, March 22nd, 2010, 03:05
Category: MacBook, MacBook Pro, Processors, Rumor

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Intel may be struggling to meet demand for its new family of Core mobile processors that are expected in the next generation of Apple MacBook and MacBook Pro notebooks.

Per DigiTimes, sources close to the story have cited that Intel’s latest Core i7/i5/i3 series notebook chips are currently facing tight supply thanks to a hefty order from Acer, which “optimistic about the upcoming demand” for its related portables.

The brief report, which doesn’t specifically name Apple, claims that Intel is giving priority to major clients, which should include the Mac maker, leaving second-tier and smaller notebook makers in the waiting line.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: “Gulftown” Processor Could Hit Mac Pro Line as Early as Tuesday

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Date: Thursday, March 11th, 2010, 06:47
Category: News, Processors

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Intel this week previewed its 32 nanometer Core i7-980X processor, a six-core CPU known as “Gulftown” and fueled rumors that the CPU could make its way to Apple’s Mac Pro line as early as March 15th.

Per ZDnet, tips have been received from sources close to the store stating that the hexacore processor could be just around the corner.

“If you’re thinking of buying a Mac Pro, you might want to wait a few days,” wrote Adrian Kingsley-Hughes.

The new processor carries a speed of 3.33GHz, six cores capable of 12 threads, and 130W thermal design power. He also noted that he’s heard no reports of impending changes to the MacBook Pro line.

The new six-core Mac Pro with the Core i7-980X has been rumored for months, with the chip set to arrive on the open market sometime this month. The new 32 nanometer chips feature 12MB of L3 cache. Apple usually doubles the processors in its high-end professional workstations, so it’s possible the new Mac Pro system could have a total of 12 cores and 24 threads.

The “Gulftown” processor will be sold under the Intel Core i9 name, while the server version, which has been adopted by Apple in the past, will fall under the Xeon 5600 series.

The last major refresh to the Mac Pro equipped it with its Nehalem Xeon processors, with a high-end eight-core Mac Pro offering two 2.26GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon 5500 chips. Last year, Apple quietly upgraded that to a potential maximum 2.93GHz eight-core system.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Initial Benchmarks Appear for Unreleased Core i7-Powered MacBook Pro

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Date: Monday, February 8th, 2010, 07:23
Category: MacBook, MacBook Pro, News, Processors

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There’s a new wave of MacBook notebooks en route.

And it may arrive sooner rather than later.

Per Canadian web site, Geekbench, a recent set of test appears to have show an unreleased Arrandale MacBook Pro notebook running at 2.66 GHz according to MacRumors.

The processor shown is listed as an Intel Core i7 M 620 running at 2.66GHz with a Turbo frequency up to 3.33 GHz. The Intel Core i7 M 620 functions as a high end dual core processor with Turbo Boost and Hyperthreading features.

The MacBook Pro model designation is listed as “6,1″ and has a non-shipping build of Mac OS X 10.6.2 (Build 10C3067).

The original article reports that supplies of MacBooks have been constrained according to international resellers, adding to the belief new Apple laptops are forthcoming.

Intel officially unveiled the Core i3, i5 and i7 processors at last month’s CES trade show in Las Vegas.

The new chips fall under the brands of Core i3 for low-end systems, Core i5 for midrange systems and Core i7 for the fastest systems.

The new processors include dual-core laptop chips under the three brands running between 1.06GHz and 2.66GHz, and desktop chips running between 2.93GHz and 3.46GHz.

According to Intel, the Intel Core i5 processor features: “4-way multi-task processing that allows each core of your processor to work on two tasks at the same time, delivering the performance you need for smart multitasking.”

Last month, Intel pulled an internal ad showing a MacBook running with the Core i5 processor. The MacBook was being offered as a prize as part of the Intel Retail Edge Program, and was sent out in promotional emails. The ad was later replaced with one offering an HP Envy laptop as a replacement.

iPad A4 Chip Could Find Way to iPhone

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Date: Friday, January 29th, 2010, 06:39
Category: iPad, iPhone, News, Processors

Initial reports about the iPad are coming back and the general consensus seems to agree that the thing is fairly speedy.

Per Macworld UK, the 1GHz A4 chip found in the iPad could ultimately find its way into the iPhone, as both the A4 and the current iPhone processors are designed around a low-power scheme as well as designed to run the iPhone OS.

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The A4 chip was designed for portable products, and modified chips based on the architecture are prime candidates to be used in new iPhone versions, said Nathan Brookwood, principal analyst at Insight 64. A variant of the A4 chip could make iPhones much faster, he said.

“There’s really no reason why a chip with this kind of characteristic wouldn’t make it in the iPhone,” Brookwood said.

“My guess is [the A4] is a lot faster than what they use in existing products,” Brookwood said.

An Apple representative declined to provide details about the A4 chip on Wednesday, but analysts said it was based on an Arm processor core. The chip was most likely designed by employees who came with Apple’s 2008 acquisition of chip firm PA Semi, which earlier was involved in designing low-power chips.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and let us know what you think in the comments.

Intel Promo E-Mail Points to Core i5-Based MacBook Pro

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Date: Wednesday, January 13th, 2010, 06:05
Category: MacBook Pro, Processors

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If you’re currently hankering for a forthcoming MacBook Pro featuring Intel’s new Core i5 processor, it may be en route.

Per AppleInsider, an e-mail promotion sent from Intel to members of Intel’s Retail Edge promotional program highlight a forthcoming MacBook Pro from Apple sporting the Core processor.

The promotion was included in an e-mail sent out to U.S. members of the Intel Retail Edge Program. It reads: “January Prize Draw: Win a MacBook Pro. Pass this month’s trainings for 2 chances to win one of 2 MacBook Pro laptops with the accelerated response of an Intel Core i5 processor.”

Currently, the top MacBook Pro features an Intel Core 2 Duo processor.

The Intel Retail Edge Program allows retail employees who sell Intel products to access technical knowledge and sales tips, which allows them to earn “chips” which can be exchanged for products. The program also offers occasional contests and giveaways.

Last week at CES, Intel formally introduced its new line of processors, which included the new Core i3, i5 and i7 chips. The mobile Core i5 is considered to be a likely candidate for a coming MacBook Pro refresh.

Apple is expected to host an event Jan. 27 at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco to introduce new products. While most speculation has centered around a tablet being unveiled at the event, Apple could also use it as an opportunity to refresh its MacBook Pro line.

Since a picture’s worth a thousand words, here you go:
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Intel Releases Core i3, i5 and i7 Processors at CES

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Date: Friday, January 8th, 2010, 07:21
Category: Processors

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Over at CES, Intel released its next generation of processors under the Core i3 brand for low end systems, the Core i5 brand for midrange systems and the Core i7 brand for the fastest systems. The new processors include dual-core laptop chips under the three brands running between 1.06GHz and 2.66GHz, and desktop chips running between 2.93GHz and 3.46GHz.

Per Macworld UK, the new chips are manufactured using the 32-nanometer process, which makes them smaller and more power-efficient than earlier chips. Based on the Westmere architecture, the transistors are a step away from chips manufactured using the 45-nanometer process.

Intel will announce quad-core chips and low-voltage processors based on the architecture later this year, said Sean Maloney, executive vice president at Intel, during a press conference.

Compared to previous generations of processors, the new processors speed up high-end tasks like intense graphics as well as mundane tasks like syncing a music player, Maloney said. Related tasks would run close to two times faster than previous chips.

Intel has also integrated graphics chips into the new processor package, which could make the chips capable of playing Blu-ray movies or high-definition games.

But the graphics processors have some limitations. “It doesn’t go into the high end… you always get a big fat graphics chip with a heat sink on it,” Maloney said.

Laptop responsiveness will also improve with the Turbo Boost mode, which can crank up the speed of cores to boost performance. The technology can also shut down cores when not needed to save power.

Intel launched three Core i3, eight Core i5, and five Core i7 processors for laptops and desktops. Maloney went on to state that there are presently 500 designs based on the new chips and that the chips are available immediately, and many desktops and laptops were on show on the CES show floor at Intel’s booth.

The laptop processors include five Core-i7 chips, including the 620M chip that runs at 2.66GHz and is priced at US$332 for 1,000 units. The slowest chip is the low-power 620UM chip, which runs at 1.06GHz and is priced at US$278. Two Core i3 chip were listed for laptops, including the i3-350M, which runs at 2.26GHz.

The chip’s price was not immediately available. Four Core i5 chips for laptops were also listed, including the Corei5-540M, which runs at up to 2.53GHz and is priced at US$257. A Core i5-520UM low-power chip runs at 1.06GHz and is priced at US$241.

The new desktop processors include two Core i5 and two Core i3 chips. The fastest Core i5 chip is the Core i5-670, which runs at 3.46GHz and is priced at US$284. The fastest Core i3 chips is the Core i3-540, which runs at 3.06GHz and is priced at US$133.

Westmere is based on the underpinnings of the Nehalem architecture, which itself included new features included an integrated memory controllers. Nehalem chips were manufactured using the 45-nm process and introduced late last year.

No official word has been released as to which processors will find their way into future Apple products.

Initial Intel Arrandale Processor Benchmarks Released, Chips En Route to MacBook Pro Near You

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Date: Monday, January 4th, 2010, 07:31
Category: News, Processors

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With Macworld Expo and CES only days away, Intel’s Arrandale dual-core processor line is also set to debut this month with some of the processors finding their way into Apple’s MacBook Pro notebooks.

Responding to this, the cool cats at PC Magazine have posted benchmark tests pitting Intel’s new 2.53GHz Intel Core i5-540M from ASUS against a 2.53GHz Intel Core 2 Duo P9500, as well as a 2GHz Intel Core i7-920XM.

“We’ve seen incremental bumps in speeds (percentages in the teens) when Intel launches new processors for the same platform, but when you swap out an entire motherboard and everything that goes with it, the change can be quite significant,” they said. “Cinebench R10 is a multi-threaded benchmark test that took full advantage of the Core i5-540M’s HyperThreading technology, beating the T400s’s similarly clocked Core 2 Duo P9500 CPU by a 62% margin.”

The Arrandale mobile processors were released alongside their Clarksdale counterparts and the two chips share the same architecture, which features a 32nm Westmere core paired with a 45nm chipset. The new 32nm chips offer improved speed, better graphics performance and lower power consumption. They will also allow motherboards to become smaller.

An article over at Tom’s Hardware found that the new processors strike a good balance between speed found on desktop machines, with power consumption low enough to support a mobile device. These gains, in early tests, come without the inclusion of a discrete graphics card.

In a test of ripping CDs to the AAC format within iTunes, the new Arrandale mobile processor performed the task 10 seconds better than its Penryn predecessor, clocking in at 1:36 on the task.

The review found that the 35W Core i5-540M uses more power under load, but uses quite a bit less power than the Core 2 Duo P8700 processor during downtime. Average power consumption was said to be 32.9W for the Arrandale and 31.7W for Penryn.

The new processors are set to improve upon the previous line of Intel’s Core 2 Duo chips, which have been utilized in versions of Apple’s new MacBook, MacBook Pro, and iMac. Apple uses the mobile variants of Intel’s desktop chips for those systems, meaning machines with chips based on the Arrandale architecture could arrive soon.

Unlike the Core 2 Duo CPUs, the Arrandale processors will have the major northbridge chipset memory controller components built in. Currently, Apple uses Nvidia chipsets with its Mac lineup. The architectural changes found in the Arrandale line, along with an ongoing lawsuit that has forced Nvidia to halt the development of future chipsets, would likely make it difficult for Apple to continue with Nvidia.

Apple last updated its MacBook Pro line in June at the Worldwide Developers Conference. Those systems included Core 2 Duo processors and Nvidia graphics, along with cheaper prices, better displays and built-in batteries. Intel intends to release 17 new CPUs in early 2010, which will be highlighted at this week’s CES event.

Intel Atom Processor Support Missing From Mac OS X 10.6.2 Update

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Date: Tuesday, November 10th, 2009, 05:55
Category: News, Processors

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As much as the Hackintosh community may love Mac OS X, Apple doesn’t always love them back.

Per OSXDaily, support for Intel’s Atom processor is confirmed to be missing in the final release of 10.6.2.

Apple’s latest update for Snow Leopard has broken support for Intel’s Atom processor line. Mac OS X 10.6.2 was released Monday afternoon, and was Apple’s second major update for Snow Leopard.

OSXDaily reported that various netbook and “hackintosh” forums are “blowing up with problems of 10.6.2 instant rebooting their Atom-based notebooks.” Systems using the Atom processor will go into a startup-loop if the 10.6.2 update is installed.

Support for Atom fluctuated over the course of 10.6.2 development, and Apple was mum about the subject.

It is recommended that anyone using OS X on Atom-based systems should not install the update. Many believe that a community-generated fix will be developed soon. Prominent hackintosh blogger StellaRola commented, “Just an FYI, this is OSx86 after all and none of the scenes hackers really let down on support. The latest kernel may not be “officially” supported but that doesn’t mean there won’t be a modded kernel around the corner.”

Intel’s Atom processor is a low-cost, low-power chip intended for notebooks, netbooks and ultra-mobile PCs. Although current Apple products do not sport the Atom chips, a dedicated community has formed around the practice of installing Snow Leopard on Atom netbooks.