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Intel To Unveil Chips for Improving Video Quality on the Web


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SAN FRANCISCO, Nov. 11 — Intel plans to announce a family of microprocessor chips on Monday that it says will speed the availability of high-definition video via the Internet.


Sean Maloney, Intel’s chief sales and marketing officer, said last week that the chips’ increased computing power would begin the transformation of today’s stuttering and blurry videos, the staple of YouTube and other video streaming sites, into high-resolution, full-screen quality that will begin to compete with the living room HDTV.


“It’s biggest impact is high-definition video,” he said. “It will be highly addictive.”


As consumers clamor for more Internet video, a huge computing burden is placed on companies like Google, Microsoft and providers of digital video, who must compress the video files so they can be streamed to desktop and portable computers.


Intel’s new family, made up of 16 processors, would first be used in servers and high-end desktops that compress the video. They are the first chips based on a new manufacturing process that Intel says will give it a significant competitive advantage by increasing computing performance while reducing power consumption.


The chips, which were developed under the code name Penryn, use a re-engineered transistor that is about half the size of its predecessor. It switches more quickly, requires less switching power and leaks less current than that previous transistor.


The chip industry measures its progress by the width of one of the smallest features of a transistor. Much of the industry is now building chips in what is known as 90-nanometer technology (a nanometer is one-billionth of a meter). At that scale, about 1,000 transistors would fit in the width of a human hair. Intel began making chips at 65 nanometers in 2005, about nine months before its closest competitors.


The Penryn chips are at the next stage of refinement, just 45 nanometers. The company said it would be able to squeeze up to 820 million transistors onto a single silicon die. The company is making the chips at two factories, in Oregon and Arizona. Next year, it will add two plants, in Israel and New Mexico.


The first products based on the new manufacturing technology will be Intel Core 2 and Xeon microprocessors. Chips for notebook PCs, marketed as the Intel Core 2 Extreme and Intel Core 2 Duo, will be available in the first quarter of next year.


To get better video compression, Intel has added a set of 46 instructions it calls SSE4 to the new microprocessors.


The leading designer of the new processor, Steve Fischer, said the new instructions would make possible a new generation of servers that enhance the compression of digital video.


“Video is becoming ubiquitous on the Web,” he said.


“This is a step in the right direction,” said Richard Doherty, president of Envisioneering, “and it’s probably the best use for this 45-nanometer technology over the next couple of years.”



Now, if you look closely, it says they will be adding these chips to the cored 2 duo. Does this mean a new Macbook and Macbook Pro?

of Mac Pro? Or iMac?

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Right now only the quad core Xeons are available. The dual core xeons will be available in about a month, and desktop and laptop chips will be Q1 next year. Hopefully there will be an update to the Mac Pros soon. They should have at least updated the standard RAM and video card in the last year. It's sad that the MacBook Pro comes with twice the RAM and a better video card standard than the Mac Pro.

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