CPU Guide

Intel's Pine Trail and Nehalem-EX Platform Updates

Intel's Pine Trail and Nehalem-EX Platform Updates



The Next Mini-Notebook Platform:- Pine Trail with Pineview and Tiger Point

Pre-Computex Updates from Intel

With Computex 2009 just around the corner, you can bet that there will be several new announcements from all market segments concerning all sorts of products. Intel no doubt as with every other year, will have something new to show such as its upcoming Intel P55 performance mainstream platform amongst many others. To kick the momentum of new products and platform laucnhes, Intel today disclosed some details involving a refresh of its smallest as well as its largest platforms targeting the mini-notebooks and multi-processor servers. We give you a quick gist of what to expect in 2010.

The Next Mini-Notebook Platform:- Pine Trail with Pineview and Tiger Point

The current 'netbook' or mini-notebooks as was first characterized more than a year ago , are mostly running the Intel Atom processor (Diamondville) with the traditional duo-chipset configuration of the old 945GC/ 945GSE with the ICH7 I/O hub. We've also often mentioned that this combination is quite a patch-up job for the mobility optimized Atom processor. In fact, the chipset consumes more than twice the power of the Atom processor and produces much more heat that it requires a fan too cool it down while the Atom is passively cooled.

At long last, Intel is going to give this platform a fresh makeover. Pine Trail is the new codename of this platform and it's expected to be out late this year. It will consist of the new highly integrated Pineview processor and the Tiger Point I/O hub. This is a dual-chip solution versus the previous tri-chip one.

 

The next generation "Pineview" Atom processor is still based on the current leading 45nm manufacturing process technology but instead of the existing Silverthorne architecture on the existing Atoms, it will feature a new Lincroft architecture that integrates the 45nm Silverthorne core with graphics, video and memory controller on a single chip - a full SoC chip if you will. Even with this extreme integration, Intel claims at this point of time that it will have a lower TDP than that of the current Diamondville Atom processor. Additionally, Pineview will be available in both single-core and dual-core variant - for which the latter option will only be made available for nettops.

What about the new integrated graphic engine you ask? Cornering Intel further on this note, we found out that the integrated graphics engine will be somewhat equivalent to current desktop PC's integrated GPU. In other words, expect some variant of the Intel G45 chipset's graphics engine to be integrated within Pineview.

Along with the Pineview processor, it will be accompanied by a more modern I/O hub called Tiger Point. At this point of time, Tiger Point seems to support SATA, USB 2.0, Intel HD Audio and even PCI Express, but no specifics were released yet.

Combine them all and you have the new Pine Trail platform which you can expect to see in mini-notebooks and nettops by the year end. The significance of this new platform is to further aid miniaturization of systems and to drastically reduce power consumption - which ultimately saves cost for everyone, improves battery life and mobility. So if you're wondering if this new platform is more capable than NVIDIA's Ion, the answer is no. Well not in the performance department, but high chances are it would fare better in terms of platform cost and power efficiency.

Now if all this sounds somewhat familiar, that's because the overall system architecture and implementation are very similar to the Moorestown platform which we've discussed before . In fact, just as how the Silverthorne and Diamondville Atom processor variants cater to the MID and mini-notebook/nettop segments respectively, Moorestown (for MIDs) and Pine Trail (for mini-notebook/nettop) do just that. Only minor differences are expected to set them apart such as their thermal design power profiles.

So stay sharp and don't get all of the above mixed up as the old platforms will still coexist with the upcoming ones for sometime to come. On the next page, we've some information on the mind boggling 8-core Xeon processors that Intel has in the pipeline for high-end servers in early 2010.