Intel makes power consumption a priority

Intel Corp. has formally shifted its traditional focus on microprocessor clock speed to lowering the performance per watt of CPUs. Chief executive Paul Otellini told last month’s Intel Developer’s Forum that the company is combining elements of its NetBurst architecture with that of its mobile Pentium products to deliver a consistent, power-optimized platform for developers.
Intel introduced Netburst five years ago to boost the video, multimedia, 3-D imaging and encryption capabilities in its Pentium 4 desktop and Xeon server products.
Power consumption concerns in NetBurst, however, have led Intel to incorporate more of the Pentium M architecture into its upcoming desktop chip, code-named Conroe, the Woodcrest server chip as well as the forthcoming mobile chip, Merom.
Otellini said the architectural changes, along with the advent of Intel’s multi-core processor strategy, would significantly improve the ability of CIOs and IT managers to spend less time maintaing their IT architecture. The company plans to launch its first dual-core desktop processor, code-named Yonah, in the first half of next year.
“Performance per watt has always been essential in desktops and servers, but now we’re seeing situations where power is limiting the kinds of devices you can build,” Otellini said, predicting Intel’s next-generation products would find their way into fanless desktops and ultra-dense server environments. “You’ll be able to avoid the power penalties you get with a gigahertz (oriented) approach.”
Otellini promised that Merom – which was used in a notebook running his keynote presentation – will see a threefold improvement in performance per watt over Banias, the mobile processor Intel introduced in 2003.

Tenfold improvement promised Conroe, meanwhile, will enjoy a five-fold improvement in performance per watt over its predecessor, Northwood, and the Woodcrest server chip will see a threefold improvement over Nocona.
By the end of the decade, Otellini added, Intel products will offer a ten-fold improvement in performance per watt.
Intel’s plans for the enterprise include embedding virtualization, management and security technologies deeper into its microchips.
Steve Ward, CEO of Lenovo Corp., demonstrated systems using Intel’s Active Management Technology which allows IT managers to set up a PC for a new employee with it turned off.
A simulation showed how an IT manager could remotely assign a network ID, run diagnostics and load a new image onto the PC.
A Lenovo product called Antidote Delivery Manager, meanwhile, will focus on protecting IT assets.
“You’ll be able to partition the PC and send patches without having to reboot the machine,” Ward said.
“I talked to one CIO who said his firm loses US$1 million in productivity every time a virus hits them.”

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