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Hot New Processors, Chipsets, and Motherboards Debut

Desktops, laptops, and mobile devices will get a boost in speed and use less power, and sport "visually stunning" integrated graphics. By James E. Gaskin

Scheduled to make new product introductions at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Intel let the cat out of the bag a little earlier this week, and announced 30 new CPUs (13 Core i7, 12 Core i5, and four Core i3) for desktops, laptops, and mobile devices. Ten new chipsets, half for desktops and half for mobile devices, were also released, as were four Centrino wireless chipsets. Server chipsets and updates to the Xeon processor family will follow later.

“Last year’s Intel CPU packages had two chips inside, the CPU built from 32 nanometer silicon, and a separate graphics processor built from the 45-nanometer process,” says Nathan Brookwood, Research Fellow at Insight64, a market research and consulting organization. “This year, both the CPU and GPU are on the same chip, all 32 nanometers.”

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CPUs slow down and need more energy when signals have to leave the chip and go across a buss to another chip. The new integrated chips will run faster using less power, says Brookwood. “A laptop that might have four hours of battery life with the old CPU might have four and a half or five with the new chips.”

Todd Garrigues, Intel’s North American Channel Manager, says, “Our biggest change, one integrated core, means graphics are no longer on a separate chip. This gives great advantages in integrated graphics, which are visually stunning. Consumers and businesses will be happy.”

But graphics professionals may not, since Intel’s new chips won’t support Microsoft’s DirectX 11 graphics software standards (confirmed by Garrigues). “The GPU discrete machines still get better graphics and performance,” says Brookwood. “There’s a big gap between the integrated and discrete GPU systems in enhanced 3D realism, games, and other graphic tasks.”

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AMD’s new chips in the Fusion product family will hit the streets soon. While the AMD chips include integrated graphics, they do support DirectX 11. AMD’s Brazos family of chips will add this graphics boost to low-end systems like netbooks, which have been almost completely dominated by Intel’s Atom processor. “AMD hasn’t had any products to sell in the netbook area,” says Brookwood, “but the new chips give them a real opportunity to make a dent in [that] arena.”

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