Intel to launch Core Duo successor "Merom" in September

Chicago (IL) - Intel is on track to introduce its next-generation mobile processor "Merom", which will also serve for as foundation for a range of desktop and server processors, in September of this year, TG Daily has learned. Merom will launch at 2.33 GHz and bring 64-bit capability to a refreshed mobile processor platform, code-named Napa64.

Within the past two weeks, Intel introduced what is most likely, its broadest processor introduction in the firm's history. At CES, Core Duo was announced and, according to Intel, is available in well more than 230 designs, 110 of which are Viiv entertainment center PCs. And while Apple is still promoting the launch of the first Intel processor in its systems, sources provided us first details about the successor of the CPU.

Intel apparently has scheduled the launch of Merom for September of this year. Back in Fall of 2005, it had been speculated that Merom would arrive very early in Q3 of 2006 and possibly could have been the processor Apple wanted to use for its transition into the x86 world. Whether Merom is delayed or not, a September delivery date was too late for Apple to make the x86 move in order to be able complete the transition buy the end of 2006. Core Duo therefore was the obvious choice.

Core is a 32-bit processor, mainly because 64-bit support would have required more transistors and would have negatively impacted power consumption of the chip, we were previously told by Intel executives. This is not a big deal right now, as 64-bit applications are rather scarce. However, according to sources, Windows Vista and Microsoft's upcoming Office suite will introduce 64-bit extensions in the 2007 timeframe which, as a result, will not be supported by Core.

Users who rely on 64-bit computing already today and would like to purchase a product that will run all features of Vista and Office in the 2007 will have to wait for Merom. The processor is based on a newly developed architecture that will spread its genes throughout Intel's processor portfolio. At least half a dozen Merom derivates for desktop and server platforms are scheduled to arrive between September 2006 and the first quarter of 2008.

Sources told TG Daily that Merom silicon as part of the Napa64 platform (Calistoga chipset) is on track, but currently shows higher power consumption levels than the company anticipated. Preliminary tests also revealed than power consumption under Vista is about 5 to 10% higher than under Windows XP. Intel plans to introduce Merom at 2.33 GHz, with the option to also offer 2.5 GHz, if thermal design power (TDP) goals can be achieved.

Napa64 is considered to be a refresh of the current Napa platform for the Core Duo processor. Details on the feature enhancements are still missing, but it is a good guess that Intel will introduce chipset enhancements we described not quite two weeks ago - such as HDMI, HD audio and a trusted platform module (TPM).

A completely new platform for Merom will be arriving in the second quarter of 2007: There is little we know about this platform, which is code-named Santa Rosa, so far. However, sources indicated that the platform originally was planned to carry DDR3 memory, FSB1066 as well as a major graphics upgrade - all of which have been dropped. Also, the platform is unlikely to be capable of running HD video through hardware decoding. For example, ATI is expected to have such a feature available for mobile platforms through its RS600 chip sometime in 2006, while Intel apparently will not support hardware HD video decoding until 2008, sources indicated.

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