First up, the high-end desktop news: Intel will launch a new Core i7-960 processor with a clock speed of 3.2 GHz in Q4. This is interesting as we have already seen rumors of the recently announced/released Core i7-950, that itself was just released as a replacement for the 6-month old Core i7-940, being replaced by the i7-960. The i7-960 would likely remain one of only two Core i7-branded CPUs on the market, the other being the Core i7-975 that runs at a clock speed of 3.33 GHz. Obviously with the pending introduction of the Lynnfield (Core i5) processors Intel is afraid of that new mainstream processor outperforming the Core i7 processors that are being billed as “high end” and targeted at enthusiasts. By increasing the available clock speeds quickly, and removing those lower-speed options, Intel can attempt to salvage the Core i7 name.
It’s likely there will only be two Core i7 CPUs throughout all of Q4
The Core i7-920 will likely remain on the market, un-updated, until the release of the Lynnfield platform basically pushes it out of the darling spot as the best value for the enthusiast and overclocker.
For the lower-end desktop world, Intel is moving the Celeron lineup to 45nm with the introduction of the Celeron E3000 series of parts with clock speeds of 2.4 GHz (E3200) and 2.5 GHz (E3300), 1MB of L2 cache, 800 MHz FSB and 65W thermal power envelopes. It will be interesting to see how these parts compete with the likes of AMD’s new Phenom II and Athlon II processors in terms of pricing and performance for that power range.
It also looks like Intel has plans to release the Atom D510 dual-core Pine Trail-based CPU in Q4 of this year. That CPU sports a 1.66 GHz clock speed, 1MB of L2 cache, supports HyperThreading and will be the replacement for the current Atom 330 CPU. A single core version, the Atom D410 will be released in Q1 of 2010. Remember that Pine Trail is Intel’s updated Atom processor that has an integrated memory controller as well as on-die graphics so it could dramatically change the game for netbook/nettop systems if it lives up to the hype.
Intel Pine Trail transition
Interestingly Intel predicts the pick up on both the Celeron E3000 series and Atom D510 processor will be very quick as we move into the first quarter of 2010. Intel expects the Celeron E3000 to be as much as 21% of their total sales in the entry-level processor market while the Atom D510 and Atom 330 will make up about 25-27% each. If that turns out the be the case, then third-party chipset vendors like NVIDIA with their ION product will find it more difficult to break into the segment because the D510 integrates so many of the chipset functionalities into the processor itself.