Intel turns the desktop upside-down, reveals new platform

It’s already been announced that Santa Rosa will initially comprise a Core 2-class CPU (with an upgrade to a Penryn-class 45nm CPU when the platform is refreshed next year), Intel’s new Mobile 965 chipset, and 802.11n wireless. But Intel’s Eric Kim announced that Intel will finally be doing what enthusiasts and niche products have been doing for years: bringing mobile-class processors to the desktop, with the Santa Rosa DT platform.

Intel turns the desktop upside-down, reveals new platform

Motherboard manufacturers such as AOpen have been producing desktop boards able to accommodate Pentium M and latterly Core Duo mobile parts for quite some time, but this is the first time Intel has ever officially committed to using mobile components on the desktop.

For ‘lifestyle’ living-room PCs the major advantage of using a mobile CPU is obvious: the TDP (thermal design power) of a mobile Santa Rosa CPU is 35W, against the 65W of desktop-class Core 2 counterparts.

Lower power consumption means far less heat and the ability to design small and quiet systems for living-room use. The chipsets and processor package are physically smaller too, giving plenty of scope for building small Mac-mini killers. It’s also entirely possible that the Mac mini itself will adopt Santa Rosa DT in due course.

In the same briefing, Kim gave some brief details of the next generation mainstream desktop platform, which will include a new chipset to be released in the second half of this year. Mainstream customers will get DDR3 memory (which is faster and lower power than DDR2), a 1,333MHz FSB (up from a current maximum of 1,066MHz), DirectX 10 integrated graphics and 802.11n wireless as standard. The platform will also include Intel Turbo Memory, the official name for the system formerly codenamed Robson.

Turbo Memory is a block of fast NAND Flash memory that sits between main RAM and the hard disk, acting as a fast, large mass-storage cache. Intel claims the system will boost Windows startup times by around 1.5 times.

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