Intel boosts chip performance with tool bundles

Intel's Averill business desktops will rely on a bundle of tools to boost the performance of its Conroe processor.

In an effort to help PC manufacturers get the best performance out of its new Conroe processor, Intel will bundle the chip with several other hardware-based technologies.

Intel plans to deliver this Professional Business Platform, code-named Averill, by mid-2006 to major manufacturers of business desktops, like Dell and HP. The bundle will include the Conroe chip, Broadwater chipset, Intel Virtualization Technology and Intel Active Management Technology.

Together, those components will allow users to get much better results than Conroe alone would produce in a generic business desktop.

Specifically, business users would be able to employ Conroe's new security and management features while maintaining its energy-efficient performance, Intel spokeswoman, Christine Dotts, said.

"Intel is not getting into the PC business. Our platforms are PC ingredients. This is another example of us integrating multiple capabilities across the platform - versus the CPU or chipset alone," she said.

Conroe is a member of Intel's new family of 65-nanometre, dual-core chips, all using the company's new Core microarchitecture. The company announced it along with the Merom and Woodcrest processors at its Intel Developer Conference in March.

The strategy of bundling a collection of technologies reserves a slightly larger slice of the business for Intel, which has traditionally delivered only chips.

But Intel insists it's nothing new. In comments to reporters last week, Intel executive, Anand Chandrasekher, compared the Averill bundle to Centrino and Viiv.

The Centrino package optimises notebook PCs for mobile use and long battery life by integrating the Core Solo processor with a 945 Express chipset and wireless LAN capabilities. Likewise, a home desktop loaded with Viiv technology can respond to commands from a remote control, thanks to a package of dual-core processor, chipset, platform software and wired networking capabilities.

Analysts warned that Intel will not find it easy to duplicate its Centrino success with the new package.

"Centrino had a key application that all users were interested in - wireless," a senior PC analyst with Current Analysis, Toni DuBoise, said. "But it's hard to say if the two packages that came after Centrino will be as successful. Do they have a killer app?.

"In the digital home, we haven't seen a solution that can tackle convergence head-on. Averill has a lot of security aspects to it, which may be a good touchpoint; that is the buzzword at the top of everyone's list of PC concerns. But the jury's still out."

In the meantime, Intel is preparing to launch other products using its next generation chips.

Due for release in the second quarter of 2006, the Bensley server architecture will use Dempsey and Woodcrest processors, while the Glidewell workstation will use Woodcrest. And when it launches in the third quarter of 2006, the Conroe chip will also be used in desktops for home users.

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Ben Ames

IDG News Service

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