Intel takes wraps off Westmere

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Intel takes wraps off Westmere

Clarkdale and Arrandale platforms unveiled.

Intel has been showcasing its forthcoming Westmere processors, the 32nm version of the Nehalem architecture, with platforms dubbed Clarkdale for the desktop version and Arrandale for mobile.

Hitting the 'Tock' on Intel's TickTock release schedule, these LGA1156 Core i5 and i3 dual-core processors can have the graphics and DDR3 memory controller integrated right onto the chip, lowering production costs and system footprint as well as opening up a host of enhanced power management features and minimising latency between the CPU, GPU and controller, the firm said.

As well as a scaled down die size, Westmere offers a handful of new instructions, most of which centre around AES mathematical operations in order to boost data encryption and decryption speeds.

Being based on the Nehalem architecture, Westmere supports both Hyperthreading and Turbo Boost functionality. The former provides two computation threads per core, and the latter will allow the system to dynamically shut down unused cores in order to divert power to overclock the active cores, which will boost performance when using lightly threaded applications, according to Intel.

The Turbo Boost feature is not available in the budget Core i3 chips.

While Intel admits that its integrated graphics are not going to cope with high-end games, it insists that the new GMA offers solid HD performance and can happily handle light or casual gaming.

Among other improvements to the graphics chip, Intel reckons its HD GPU can handle Blu-ray with dual video decode for picture-in-picture Blu-ray playback, full hardware decode acceleration for AVC, VC1 and MPEG-2 formats, HDMI 1.3a, dual simultaneous HDMI and DisplayPort 1.1 with audio support.

The memory controller offers two memory channels and supports DDR3 up to 1333MHz for the desktop version and up to 1066MHz for mobile.

As well as bringing the integrated graphics onto the processor, a number of other enhancements have been made on the graphics front, with a completely revamped control panel and platform support for optional switchable graphics between discrete and embedded for higher end notebooks.

By embedding the GPU onto the chip, the system can now use Dynamic Frequency to intelligently boost graphics performance, provided that thermal and power headroom exist. Effectively this works similarly to the Turbo Boost function, but includes the GPU versus CPU workload demand into the equation.

According to Intel, a system running its Core i5-430M chip will perform around twice as well as one running an Intel Core Duo T2250 processor, while a Core i5-650 powered desktop machine will go twice as fast as a Core 2 Duo Processor E6400.

The Arrandale and Clarkdale systems are due to hit the shelves on 7 January.

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