Intel unveils Yonah dual-core mobile chip

Intel Corp. outlined its plans for a dual-core mobile processor and platform technology Wednesday, but declined to provide any details about the dual-core future of its flagship Pentium 4 desktop processor.

The company’s first dual-core notebook product is code-named Yonah. It will be a 65 nanometer (nm) version of the Pentium M processor and it will come with a new set of accompanying technology grouped under the Napa code name.

Intel did not specify whether Yonah would have the same architecture as the Banias and Dothan versions of the Pentium M. The Banias architecture was the original blueprint for the Pentium M processor, and Dothan was the code name for the 90nm version of that chip introduced earlier this year.

Yonah will have some things in common with Banias, but Intel is not disclosing specific architectural details right now, said Anand Chandrasekher, vice-president and general manager of Intel’s Mobile Platforms Group, in an interview following his keynote address Wednesday at the Intel Developer Forum (IDF) in San Francisco.

Intel has committed to get the chip out by the end of 2005, which means that the basic design will have to be completed within the next six months, said Nathan Brookwood, principal analyst with Insight 64 in Saratoga, Calif.

Yonah and Napa will succeed the Sonoma platform that is slated for availability in the first quarter of 2005. Sonoma includes support for double data rate 2(DDR2) memory and improved integrated graphics in the Alviso chipset.

Napa will address many of the issues that can affect mobile computing, such as battery life and security, Chandrasekher said during his keynote speech. He declined to specify a time-frame for the Napa introduction, but Intel tends to roll out new chipset technology once every 12 months, putting Napa on track for 2006.

Yonah will come with power-management technology that can shut down one of the processor cores if the application workload is light, Chandrasekher said. It will also feature Intel’s VT technology for virtualization and LT technology for security, he said.

Intel doesn’t plan to introduce VT or LT technology until Microsoft Corp. releases Longhorn, the long-awaited next-generation version of the Windows operating system, said Intel President and Chief Operating Officer Paul Otellini during his keynote on Tuesday. Microsoft is currently expected to release Longhorn in 2006.

Napa will also feature an updated version of Intel’s wireless chip that will be called Golan, Chandrasekher said.

Chandrasekher was preceded by Intel vice-president and general manager Bill Siu, who runs Intel’s Desktop Platforms Group along with Louis Burns. Siu demonstrated a three-way video conferencing application that would help mobile workers collaborate on common projects.

At the end of the demonstration, Siu offhandedly mentioned that one of the PCs used in the demonstration was running on a dual-core desktop processor. In a question-and-answer session following the keynote, Siu called the processor an “engineering prototype” and declined to discuss its architecture, features, release schedule or even its code name, in sharp contrast to the way the dual-core Yonah mobile processor was unveiled.

Intel’s plans to bring dual-core chips to its desktop, notebook and server processors in 2005 have been one of the central themes of this IDF, but the company has not said very much at all about its plans for the Xeon and Pentium 4 processors based on the Netburst architecture. Intel is eventually expected to move away from the power-hungry Netburst architecture but it plans to keep that architecture for the first dual-core desktop and server chips, according to sources.

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