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Home | News Archive | November 2007

Intel launches 45nm Penryn CPUs
November 12, 2007

Intel launched a new line of microprocessors on Sunday, code-named Penryn.

Penryn represents a shrink of the Core 2 Duo architecture from a 65nm to 45nm manufacturing process, but far more interesting than the modest performance gains are the power consumption improvements.

Penryn uses High-k metal gate transistors, which replaces traditional polysilicon transistor gates with a secret blend of metal alloys. A hafnium based mixture is used for the insulator in place of silicon dioxide. A High-k value means less unwanted current flow, and an easier manufacturing process - allowing the processor to be made smaller.

Penryn saves power wherever possible. For instance if a 32-bit operation is being performed, the other 32-bits in the data path are temporarily switched off. Additionally, mobile variants of Penryn processors can enable a new Deep Power Down state (DPD) which allows them to idle at under 200 milliwatts many times every second, with a less than 200 microsecond exit latency.

The end result is a more densely packed processor which runs cooler and therefore can be pushed to run faster.

So when can we expect to see a Penryn Mini-ITX? Intel-based Mini-ITX boards are generally developed from the starting point of Intel's mobile Centrino platform.

1st generation (Intel 855 aka Carmel) and 2nd generation Centrino (Intel 915 aka Sonoma) boards are now rare. 3rd generation boards (Intel 945 aka Napa) and 4th generation (Intel 965 aka Santa Rosa) boards are currently popular - both using similar Merom Core 2 Duo processors.

Penryn support will first be added to the Centrino platform in early 2008 (Santa Rosa Refresh), followed proper by the 5th generation Centrino (Montevina, due in Q2 2008).

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$199 C7-powered PC at Wal-Mart
November 11, 2007

Everex - the US subsidiary of Taiwan's FIC - are retailing their TC2502 gPC at $199 through selected Wal-Mart stores, just in time for the holiday season.

The TC2502 is powered by the same 1.5GHz VIA C7 processor found in many Mini-ITX boards, with 512MB of DDR2 RAM, 80GB IDE hard drive and a CD-RW/DVD drive. The motherboard doesn't appear to be true 17 x 17cm Mini-ITX, but rather a variant on the 19cm x 23cm reference design from VIA's low cost pc-1 initiative. Photographs of the innards of a retail TC2502 most welcome!

The operating system used is an Ubuntu based distribution called gOS running the lightweight Enlightenment desktop manager, with Firefox and OpenOffice 2.2 installed, and with pre-configured links to many of Google's online applications. gOS was originally developed by FIC, who has now spun it off into a separate company. gOS is available for download here.

A $298 version of the same machine sports 1GB of memory, 80GB SATA HDD, a DVD±RW and runs Windows Home Vista Basic Edition. Everex have used a standard case design presumably to reduce tooling costs, but also because research indicates Wal-Mart shoppers equate the size of a system to its capability...

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