August 25, 2005 1:23 PM PDT

Intel to make single-core Yonah

SAN FRANCISCO--Though Intel spent much time during the past week touting the benefits of Yonah, a dual-core chip for notebooks, the company said it will come out with a single-core version too.

Intel will release versions of the low-power processor after the dual-core Yonah launch in January 2006 but before the end of June. These will be sold into budget laptops and, if history is any guide, not provide the same level of performance as the fancier dual-core versions.

"We expect single-core processors to exist for quite some time in our value-processor line," Steve Smith, vice president of Intel's digital enterprise group, said this week at the Intel Developer Forum here.

The single-core version of Yonah signals that Intel has no plans to get out of the value segments of the PC world with its dual-core onslaught. Analysts at the conference speculated that a strict dual-core policy by Intel could potentially hurt the company or chase some customers to Advanced Micro Devices.

Currently in tests with Intel's partners, the next-generation Pentium M processor, code-named Yonah, is expected to be the brains behind next year's Centrino-based notebooks as well as Intel's new Viiv brand for multimedia consumer PCs. The dual-core version of the 32-bit processor is expected to include speeds of less than 2GHz with the ability to run a 667MHz processor system bus.

As for production qualities, analysts suggest Intel may be inclined to build all versions of Yonah as a dual-core processor and disengage the appropriate portions of the second core to make it work like a single-core processor. Dual-core chips that have only one working core can also be resold as single-core chips, rather than get chucked into the garbage bin.

"They've done that in the past with their Celeron lines for lower-priced PCs," Kevin Krewell, editor in chief of the Microprocessor Report, said. Rival AMD does the same with its Athlon-Duron lines.

During the testing process of the 300mm semiconductor wafers, Krewell said, Intel would be able to identify which chips had slight defects, put them aside and later configure the flawed dual-core Yonah chips to use only portions of the processor, such as a reduced-access memory cache.

Intel CEO Paul Otellini revealed this week that a new platform for laptops, code-named Merom, would be the follow-on to Yonah and be available sometime in the second half of 2006.

 

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