Sneak peek at the notebooks of 2008

Intel readies quad-core mobile processor for power users

What will they put in notebook PCs next? At Intel's recent Developer Forum conference in Beijing, the company revealed it's working on quad-core processing to go.

Set for release in 2008, the quad-core mobile processor is aimed at high-level gaming and mobile computers, where users will trade battery life for more performance. While the most demanding users (including gamers and those doing video editing) always want more processing power, this chip won't appear in standard business notebooks for some time.

"You'll see it at the high-end, but I don't see it running so fast into the mainstream because I don't believe there will be enough threaded applications that will justify the trade-offs," says Mooly Eden, vice president and general manager of Intel's mobile platform group. (Multithreaded applications allow several parts of software code to be executed simultaneously, taking advantage of multiple processing cores.)

The quad-core mobile chip will likely differ in some way from Intel's current desktop and server quad-core chips, which strap together two dual-core dies inside a single-chip package.

Meanwhile, the next version of Intel's Centrino notebook platform, code-named Santa Rosa, hit the market last month. Compared with Centrino, Santa Rosa offers several improvements, including dynamic acceleration, which raises the clock speed of one processor core above the guaranteed frequency level when the other core has powered down.

This raises the performance of the remaining core, while keeping the processor operating within the thermal limits envisioned by Intel engineers. This differentiates Dynamic Acceleration from overclocking, where users raise the frequency of a processor beyond the intended level.

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