Intel: Dual Cores, The Next Generation

Otellini gives details with a surprisingly early announcement. Could the company be feeling the heat from AMD?

It seems like dual core processors have only just arrived, but that hasn’t stopped Intel from lifting the lid on its second generation.

The news was surprisingly announced by Paul Otellini (below), Intel’s incoming CEO (replacing the long serving Craig Barrett), during an analyst conference in the US late on Friday night. He outlined three chips: Merom for notebooks, Conroe for desktops and Woodcrest for servers.

The boast from the company is that all three CPUs will feature completely new technology from top to bottom. That includes the scrapping of Intel’s Netburst architecture in favour of shorter, more efficient pipelines (like the Pentium Ms), meaning we are likely to see lower clock speeds that are used more efficiently (didn’t AMD say years ago that we all needed to stop obsessing about Megahertz and Gigahertz?).


In addition, Merom, Conroe and Woodcrest will not have on die memory controllers, while the latter will be FBD (Fully Buffered DIMM) enabled which should allow huge quantities of RAM to be strapped to it.

FSB architecture will remain for the time being (its replacement: CSI – Crime Scene Investigation… sorry, Common System Interface – is still some way off), but it will be cranked up by an unspecified amount, while it goes without saying that all three are 64bit.

As for the timelines, Intel says we can expect to see all three towards the end of 2006. Merom is expected to lead the pack, closely followed by Conroe with Woodcrest bringing up the rear.

Personally speaking, it makes sense for Intel to bang on about its second gen part this early, since its first gen appears to be getting a bit of a stuffing at the hands of AMDs X2. If you check our review of the Pentium Extreme Edition Dual Core and then today’s on the Athlon X2, you’ll see what we mean.

Meanwhile, AMD has said it hopes to transition all its desktop processors over to Socket M2 by the second half of next year. The jump will see support for DDR2 RAM and even quad core processors. Socket 754 (Sempron and older Athlon 64s), Socket 939 (Athlon 64 and Athlon 64-FX) and Socket 940 (Opteron) will all go as a result. Still want to buy that new motherboard…?

Intel UK

Unlike other sites, we thoroughly review everything we recommend, using industry standard tests to evaluate products. We’ll always tell you what we find. We may get a commission if you buy via our price links. Tell us what you think – email the Editor