Roadmap update: Intel aims for 5 hours of battery time in notebooks

Chicago (IL) - Battery time in notebooks equipped with Intel's upcoming Merom processor is expected to make a significant in battery time: Sources suggest that many devices will break the five-hour barrier. The new microprocessor architecture will also appear in less power-hungry desktop CPUs and especially blade-server processors - including a 40W Xeon chip.

Intel's latest notebook processor, Core Duo, will offer users more than four hours of battery time in most notebooks, once the chip becomes available in volume. But four hours is still well of Intel's target of achieving eight hours by 2008. The upcoming Merom processor, which will be debut as Core Duo T5000 and T7000 series in the fourth quarter of this year, will be contributing to bump the current 240 - 270 minute range to at least 300 minutes, TG Daily has learned.

Merom will serve as the center piece of Intel's processor portfolio at least through 2008 and will key for the company to deliver on its promise to not only increase raw processing speed, but also decrease the power consumption of processors. According to sources, Merom will be introduced initially in the following lineup:

  • T5600: 1.83 GHz, FSB667, 2 MB L2 cache, $241 at launch
  • T7200: 2.00 GHz, FSB667, 4 MB L2 cache, $294 at launch
  • T7400: 2.16 GHz, FSB667, 4 MB L2 cache, $423 at launch
  • T7600: 2.33 GHz, FSB667, 4 MB L2 cache, $637 at launch

During the first half of 2007, Intel will be adding a 1.6 GHz T5500 model.

Intel plans to introduce Merom as part of the "Napa64" platform, which essentially is a 64-bit update of the current 32-bit Napa platform. It is unclear, whether Intel plans to upgrade Core Duo to 64-bit at this time. We have heard contradicting claims; but at least the documents available to us do not suggest that neither Core Duo nor its blade-server derivate Sossaman will get a 64-bit makeover. Until Merom arrives, Core Duo will get a 2.33 GHz addition (T2700) and Core Solo a 1.83 GHz variant (T1400). There will be also a T2300E processor (instead of the current T2300), which switches from PGA yo BGA packaging, according to sources.

Napa64 will also restrict Merom to run with a 667 MHz FSB, while the processors support up to 800 MHz.

The speed upgrade from 667 to 800 MHz will be enabled in early 2007, when Intel will introduce its "Santa Rosa" platform. Santa Rosa's Crestline chipset will not only include support for 802.11n, but also WWAN (EVDO/HSDPA), connect to Intel's LaGrande trusted platform module (TPM) to interact Microsoft's Next Generation Secure Computing Base (NGSCB) in Windows Vista, but also the first mobile chipset to drop PATA support in favor of two additional SATA ports. Santa Rosa will also include an update of its "Dorrington," software than simplifies the sharing of data within a home network.

While Napa64 will not be able to exploit the full potential of Merom, our sources suggest that the architecture will enable longer battery running times right from the start. So called mobile lifestyle notebooks, devices with 14" and 15" screens are indicated to exceed five hours of battery time when launched in Q4. The same goes for business notebooks with screens smaller than 12", as well as entertainment laptops - both product classes will not be launched on Napa64, but wait for Santa Rosa in Q1 2007 instead. An exception are gaming notebooks that typically will be equipped with 17" and 19" screens and high-powered graphics cards. Sources point to a battery time of at least three hours of battery time for these devices.

Intel will also bring the Merom core quickly to entry-level notebooks. The Celeron M processor family is likely to receive a single-core derivate of Merom sometime in the first half of the year. A Core Solo derivate will be injected into the processor family in Q2 of this year and serve as a transitional technology until the new processor generation arrives. The Celeron M brand will not change when the new cores arrive. However, Intel will move from a Celeron M 300-series to a Celeron M 400 series with Core Solo. Merom-based Celerons will launch with sequence numbers starting at 420.

Merom's reduced power consumption will also dramatically reduce the power consumption of desktop (code-named Conroe, expected naming: Core Duo E5000/E6000) and server processors. While we have known for some time that mainstream Conroes will be designed for a thermal design power (TDP) of 65 watts - down from 130 watts of the Pentium D 800 - recent roadmaps provided a first indication about the server version of Merom: Woodcrest will be posting a TDP of 80 watts on the high end, while low power version will be designed for a TDP of as low as 40 watts.

Woodcrest will launch as Xeon 5100 series with clock speeds ranging from 1.6 to 3.0 GHz and a standard shared L2 cache of 4 MB. The CPU is expected to debut in Q3 of this year in this lineup:

  • Xeon DP 5110: 1.60 GHz, FSB1066, 4 MB L2 cache, $209 at launch
  • Xeon DP 5120: 1.86 GHz, FSB1066, 4 MB L2 cache, $256 at launch
  • Xeon DP 5130: 2.00 GHz, FSB1333, 4 MB L2 cache, $316 at launch
  • Xeon DP 5140: 2.33 GHz, FSB1333, 4 MB L2 cache, $455 at launch
  • Xeon DP 5150: 2.66 GHz, FSB1333, 4 MB L2 cache, $690 at launch
  • Xeon DP 5160: 3.00 GHz, FSB1333, 4 MB L2 cache, $851 at launch

Intel's lowest power processor currently is Sossaman, a Core Duo derivate, which will debut at 2 GHz and a TDP of 31 watts. Later this year, Intel will be introducing a low power version of the processor which drops to 1.6 GHz and 15 watts.