It will be designed for low-cost desktop PCs
Intel Corp.'s low-power processor, code-named "Diamondville," will initially be available as a single-core processor. But the company is planning a dual-core version, according to a source familiar with Intel's plans.
The dual-core Diamondville will deliver better performance than the single-core version and will be designed for low-cost desktops, the source said.
The dual-core Diamondville processor will take Intel into the low-cost desktop market to compete with vendors such as Via Technologies Inc., which is providing low-cost chips in desktops priced at less than $300 being sold by Everex Systems Inc.
The single-core Diamondville will initially be included in low-power laptops that are fanless, the source said. Slated to be available around midyear, the 45-nanometer chips will likely contain 47 million transistors and be offered at a clock speed of 1.6 GHz, with a 512KB cache.
Though processor pricing hasn't been set, the single-core Diamondville chip will be used for laptops in the $250-to-$300 price range, the source said.
Diamondville is based on the Silverthorne chip architecture, which has a small die size and is designed for ultramobile devices. Although they are aimed at different product markets, the Diamondville and Silverthorne processors fall under a single processor family that will receive an official brand name soon, the source said.
Diamondville will most likely be included in Intel's next version of Classmate PC, the source said. Micro-Star International Co. is already working to introduce an ultralow-cost laptop PC based on Diamondville to compete against rival Asustek Computer Inc.'s Eee PC.
Intel intends to include Diamondville processors in a new product category that it terms "netbooks" -- low-cost, low-power notebooks designed for basic computing such as Internet use. Classmate PC is an example of a netbook, the source said.
The low-end market is expected to grow, spurred by the success of Asustek's Eee PC ultramobile notebook, which has sold thousands of units so far, said Dean McCarron, founder of Mercury Research. "Once the Eee PC happened and we saw the volumes associated with it, all of a sudden, design activity really stepped up," he said.
The Eee PC is powered by a special Intel Celeron ultralow-voltage processor, which Diamondville will replace in low-end notebooks, McCarron said. The Celeron brand itself will not go away, but will instead focus on speedier processors to meet higher multitasking needs.
Diamondville could also have competition from Via's C7-M processor, which is included in Everex's Cloudbook ultraportable PC. Via is also designing a processor based on its Isaiah architecture to replace the C7-M processor. The new 64-bit Isaiah architecture will enable processors in notebooks and desktops to run at speeds from 400 MHz to 2 GHz and include 1MB of cache. The processors are set for release in the middle of the year, around the same time as Diamondville, McCarron said.
This is the first time Intel is making a chip designed to be low in cost, McCarron said. Via is the pioneer in that market and will continue to make low-cost products, so there will be some overlap in the future that will lead to competition, he said.
Advanced Micro Devices Inc. will focus on hitting the low-cost market in 2009 with Fusion, which includes highly integrated components, McCarron said.