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Intel Launches Clarksfield Mobile Processors

Jeffrey Burt is a senior editor for eWEEK and contributor to TechWeekEurope

At its Intel Developer Forum, the chip-making giant formally announces the family of quad-core mobile processors code-named Clarksfield, bringing the  microarchitecture code-named Nehalem to high-end laptops

Intel is bringing its “Nehalem” microarchitecture to the mobile space in the form of three new mobile Core i7 processors for high-end computing.

At the Intel Developer Forum here Sept. 23, Dadi Perlmutter, executive vice president and general manager for the company’s Intel Architecture Group, unveiled the “Clarksfield” family of quad-core mobile Nehalem chips: the Core i7-920XM Extreme, Core i7-820QM and Core i7-720QM.

Perlmutter also said in early 2010 Intel will release “Arrandale,” its first 32-nanometer mobile chip for mainstream systems. Arrandale also will come with a 45-nm graphics chip and chip set.

“This will let us … offer the best of graphics and the best of CPUs,” Perlmutter said.

The introduction of Clarksfield and the talk of Arrandale came during a wide-ranging discussion of where Intel officials are trying to drive the mobile space. The Clarksfield chips come with such features as Turbo Boost, which enables the dynamic scaling of a chip’s speed depending on demand; multithreading capabilities; and an integrated memory controller.

During the keynote, Mooly Eden, vice president and general manager of Intel’s PC Client Group, demonstrated how the Turbo Boost feature will crank up the speed of processing cores that are in use when other cores go idle, which can increase the chip’s overall frequency to over 3GHz.

Mooly said the chips are good not only for gaming and multimedia purposes, but also for high-end enterprise computing.

“It says mobile, it says workstation, but it has the power of a server,” he said.

Dell already is taking advantage of the new chips. The OEM on Sept. 23 announced the Alienware M15x, a compact gaming laptop that includes a mobile Core i7-920Xm chip as well as an Nvidia graphics chip.

Dell also rolled out the Alienware Aurora and Aurora ALX desktops, which feature Core i7 Extreme Edition chips from Intel, and the Alienware Area-51 and Area-51 ALX, with overclocked Core i7 processors.

During his keynote, Perlmutter also introduced the next version of Intel’s Anti-Theft Security software, which offers enhanced data encryption, which will be released in 2010.

Perlmutter said Intel engineers are working to bring SSDs (solid-state drives) into mobile devices, which will improve response time, battery life and performance over traditional hard drives.

Regarding connectivity, he said Intel is moving toward a time in 2011 when it will be able to offer fully integrated connectivity capabilities for both Wi-Fi and WiMax.

Engineers also are working on a project that will bring high-speed (10G bps) optical I/O connectivity.